Anbar – One hundred people were killed by both Islamic State militants and feral desert wolves while fleeing the extremist group’s havens in western Anbar, a local paramilitary commander said.
Qatari al-Obaidi, a commander at the province’s “mobilization units” fighting the Islamic State, was quoted by Iraqi websites Baghdad Times and Almaalomah.info saying that more than 100 civilians and casual security members disappeared while escaping Islamic State-held areas towards western Anbar deserts.
Obaidi quoted local shepherds at the desert area saying they had seen Islamic State members executing a number of civilians and security agents fleeing towards security deployment locations. He added that some others were killed when attacked by desert wolves and other beasts of prey.
Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition fighter jets have regularly pounded locations held by the Islamic State at the stronghold towns of Annah, Qaim and Rawa, killing dozens of militants. Thousands of civilians are thought to be held in Islamic State captivity at those locations. It is widely expected that the Iraqi government will launch a major security offensive in Anbar once it is done with its U.S.-backed campaign to drive out IS from Mosul, the group’s principal stronghold in Iraq, which has been running since October 2016. Military officials have been quoted over the past few weeks telling of preparations to invade IS havens in the province.
IS has regularly executed civilians and security members over espionage and attempting to flee its domains since the group emerged in 2014 to proclaim and “Islamic Caliphate”.