By Emily Anagnostos and the ISW Iraq Team
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Popular Mobilization completed the operation to recapture Fallujah on June 26, securing the city and its environs from ISIS control. The operation, which began on May 23, breached the city limits on June 8 and secured the government complex on June 17. The Popular Mobilization agreed with the ISF to remain outside of Fallujah’s city limits, out of ISF and Coalition fears of Shi’a sectarian reprisals on Fallujah’s Sunni population. Despite this agreement, pro-Iranian elements within the ISF allowed proxy militias to operate inside the city. Fallujah’s security apparatus after the end of the operation remains firmly under ISF control, while Popular Mobilization continue to secure terrain in its environs. ISW is thus changing the status of Fallujah to an ISF-held location.
The ISF launched an operation to retake Shirqat and Qayyarah on June 18, seizing Qayyarah airfield on July 9. The ISF opened the front northwards from Baiji to Qayyarah as ISF units operating under Ninewa Operations Command continued efforts westwards from Makhmur. The ISF, backed by tribal fighters and Coalition airstrikes, secured Qayyarah Airfield West on July 9. The U.S.-led Coalition will use Qayyarah airbase for logistical and air support for future ISF operations to retake Mosul. The U.S. announced on July 11 that it will deploy an additional 560 soldiers to the base for this purpose. The ISF also arrived at the western bank of the Tigris River on July 13. ISF units under Ninewa Operations Command secured Hajj Ali, on the eastern bank, on July 2. The two fronts made contact, effectively severing the ground line of communication between Shirqat and Qayyarah. ISW is thus changing the status of Qayyarah Airfield West to an ISF-held military base and the status of its environs to an ISF control zone.