Skip to main content

Is Anbar Islamic State's Achilles' heel?

The Islamic State’s control of Anbar province and the city of Fallujah is key to their survival, and if lost the group's demise would follow.
A man walks past a damaged building in the Anbar province town of Hit October 6, 2014. Iraqi forces backed by Shi'ite volunteer fighters are fighting to retake control of the western Iraqi town of Hit from the insurgents of the Islamic State, residents said. Residents said that fighting is going on in the outskirts of the town, which was captured by IS militants a week ago. Picture taken October 6. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR49ECK

BAGHDAD — In and out of Iraq, talks are ongoing regarding the Islamic State’s (IS) return to Anbar province and focused effort to take control of its towns, one after the other. It was able to advance into the cities of Hit and Kabisa and control a part of Ramadi, threatening the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

However, the question that has never been responsibly considered within the context of the fight against IS is: Did IS ever truly leave Anbar before its return today?

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.