Iraqi government and allied forces have captured Al-Qa'im (Anbar province), one of the last Islamic State (IS) strongholds in the country, according to a statement made by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday, November 3. Iraqi and allied forces also recaptured the Hasaybah border crossing that connects Al-Qa'im to the Syrian city of Al-Bukamal.
In addition, the Iraqi government offensive, assisted by the predominantly Shi'a Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Sunni tribal militias, is primed to recapture Rawa (Anbar province) from IS militants. According to media reports on Friday, Iraqi forces have completely surrounded and laid siege to Rawa. Iraqi and allied forces are expected to retake Rawa and remaining IS positions in the desert of Anbar province within the coming days.
Recent Iraqi victories against IS include the liberation of Mosul in July, Tal Afar in August, and Hawija in October. IS is also expected to rapidly lose its remaining territory in neighboring Syria in the coming weeks, following the liberation of Deir Al-Zor in November, and Raqqa in mid-October.
Diversionary and retaliatory attacks by IS have become increasingly common as IS loses territory in the country. As IS's capabilities to successfully wage insurgent warfare in Iraq and Syria wane, it is likely that the group will continue to employ such asymmetric terrorist tactics with greater frequency, using small cells that can operate within the group's progressively fragmenting leadership structure.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible (with appropriate precautions in place) in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.