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After Mosul, Iraq's western Anbar next up in IS fight

An Iraqi offensive against the Islamic State is likely to take place in the near future in the western Anbar province, with the city of Haditha being the gateway to the region.
Iraqi army vehicles and a helicopter deploy in the front line in al-Anbar desert, 50 kms north east of Haditha, where the country's forces are fighting the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, on March 9, 2016.
Counter-terrorism forces, soldiers, police and allied paramilitaries are taking part in an operation launched on March 1, which is backed by artillery and both Iraqi and US-led coalition aircraft, aimed at retaking areas north of Baghdad, according to the Joint Operations Command. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBA

HADITHA, Iraq – As the Tal Afar military campaign starts farther north in Ninevah province, preparations are underway to retake parts of the western Anbar region still under the control of the Islamic State (IS). Haditha, located about 240 kilometers (150 miles) northwest of Baghdad, is the nearest city to the front from which the Anbar offensive will be conducted. 

Along a key juncture between northern oil wells and other parts of Iraq and home to the Haditha Dam, as well as being near the al-Asad airbase where US forces train their Iraqi counterparts, the city managed to avoid falling completely under IS control.

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