Radio Free Iraq's broadcaster Nabil al-Haidari interviews Raad al-Khashea, a correspondent in Anbar province. Interview translated by Ayad al-Gailani.
Q: Reports continue to indicate that government forces have completely liberated and secured the town of Haditha. To what extent are these reports confirmed and what are the details?
A: The Anbar Police and Operations Commands announced today, and we have seen and witnessed that conditions are more positive in those areas following the establishment of control over the areas around Haditha and the area of Birwana which had been captured by the gunmen a few days ago, and we have seen families returning to their homes in those areas. Military operations have been greatly expanded and many villages and rural areas have been secured. However, the local Haditha Council has announced today that the township requires weapons and munitions in order to prevent the gunmen from returning. We have seen many families returning to their homes in Baghdadi, Birwana, and other areas of Haditha Township.
Q: It has also been reported that U.S. warplanes had paved the way for the security forces in re-taking control of these area, and in pushing the ISIL gunmen to the Syrian border.
A: Military operations have been ongoing for about 8 months in those areas, but there were no advances made; the gunmen were the ones taking the initiative and in moving into other areas. But the equation changed about a month ago, as a result of the U.S. air sorties. We have witnessed that - in less than one month - American warplanes have reversed the situation by enabling the security and tribal forces to retake the initiative. These forces had feared that the gunmen would continue with their advances, but they are now highly motivated in their confrontations with the gunmen. An important point is that Fallujah has not been randomly bombarded for the past two days, following the Prime Minister's decision to stop the bombardment of residential districts. The Anbar Council leader, Sabah Karhoot, has announced that the Cabinet's decision to end the bombardment will result, either tomorrow or the next day, in a meeting in Baghdad between the Anbar Provincial Government and Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi.