By Mohammed al-Qaisi
Anbar authorities last Monday (December 16th) launched a plan to bolster security on the border with Syria by boosting the number of troops stationed there and by installing new technology.
“A new security plan has been launched to control the borders with Syria following repeated attempts by terrorist groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra or al-Qaeda in Iraq, to cross from Syria during the past two months,” Anbar governor Ahmed al-Dulaimi said at a joint press briefing with local police and army commanders.
The new plan has two parts, he said. The first “increases the number of army and border guard forces, supplies them with medium and heavy support weapons and provides them backing from combat helicopters”.
“This will enable the army to control the rugged areas, which ground forces have difficulty monitoring,” he added.
The second part involves the installation of thermal sensing equipment to monitor borders, he said, and the setup of night-vision cameras and laser devices to detect explosives.
These are being installed through a joint effort between the Iraqi government and a number of friendly countries that also support the fight against terrorism, he added.
Terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda in Syria are trying to turn desert areas and cities and villages in the border zone into headquarters from which they can launch operations, al-Dulaimi said.
The Iraqi forces are resolved and determined to block this plan, as are the people of Anbar, he said.
“The people of Anbar today have turned against al-Qaeda, in particular in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, which endured the taste of death and destruction when al-Qaeda had presence in them in past years,” al-Dulaimi said.
‘Resolved and determined’
The new plan aims to “raise the state of readiness of military units in Anbar, both in number and equipment, to prevent al-Qaeda from expanding, or having its gunmen in Syria merge with those who are in Iraq”, said Iraqi army ground forces commander Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan.
Combat helicopters will enable army forces to extend control over larger portions of the desert and monitor movement along the borders, he said.
“More than 60% of border infiltration attempts were foiled this year; however, we must admit there were some gaps the terrorists used to creep through, and today this plan will address those gaps,” said Anbar police chief Maj. Gen. Hadi Kassar Erzaij at the joint press briefing with the Anbar governor.
Iraqi Minister of Defence Saadoun al-Dulaimi told Mawtani, senior army commanders are supervising the new plan.
These commanders received training on how to control Iraq’s international borders in countries friendly to Iraq, he said.
Al-Dulaimi welcomed the support extended by such countries, which he said help Iraq safeguard the lives of its people and defeat terrorists through their logistical and moral support, including through their media outlets.
He called on the international community to stand by Iraq in its war against terrorist groups.
“The impact of any progress made by al-Qaeda would not be restricted to the lives of Iraqis, but would have further consequences on neighbouring countries and all countries in the region,” al-Dulaimi said.