US deploys surveillance balloons over Iraq's Anbar

US deploys surveillance balloons over Iraq's Anbar
US and Iraqi troops have begun preparing for military operations against Islamic State group in Anbar, with US forces deploying surveillance balloons and patrolling the area around Habbaniyah military base.
2 min read
22 September, 2015
The US and Iraq are preparing for military operations against IS [AFP/Getty]
US troops in Anbar province, west of Iraq, have begun preparing for military operations against Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS), and have launched surveillance air balloons to explore areas around Habbaniyah military base in eastern Ramadi, and are conducting joint intelligence patrols with Iraqi forces in the base's vicinity.

A source from Anbar Operations Command told al-Araby al-Jadeed: "US troops that are stationed in Habbaniyah base has launched a number of balloons equipped with surveillance cameras to explore the surrounding areas, in preparation for fighting battles to liberate the province."

The source who preferred not to reveal his identity said that "the rush to launch balloons indicates that military operations [against IS] are imminent," pointing out that the surveillance cameras installed on the balloons are capable of monitoring enemy movements over several miles.

The source also added that the balloons are carrying devices that can accurately identify the areas from which missiles or shells are launched in the direction of Iraqi and US military bases.

A tribal leader opposed to IS, Abdulrahman Khleifawi, said that the clans of Anbar are sincere about their intention to liberate the province from IS control and told al-Araby: "The battle this time will be quick and decisive, after a decision was made to deploy a US force that is part of the international coalition."

Khleifawi also revealed that US armored patrols have been deployed in the areas surrounding Habbaniyah military base to monitor the movement of IS and make the necessary arrangements for the launch of the battles, saying that "Iraqi and US intelligence units have begun gathering information about IS meetings and headquarters to facilitate the task of eradicating it."

Anbar Provincial Council spokesperson, Hikmat al-Dulaimi, said that Iraq had agreed for US Apache helicopters and artillery to be used during the Anbar battles, pointing out that this will be made "in coordination with the [Iraqi] federal government."

Iraqi commander of the ground forces, Riyad Jalal, said that purging Ramadi city of IS elements is near. "The goal of the security forces is to preserve the lives of the citizens and the infrastructure of the city," Jalal's statement added.