This is interesting:
"Daesh (IS) has completely pulled out of Rutba and gone towards Al-Qaim," a major general told AFP, referring to a jihadist bastion on the border with Syria, further north in Anbar.
"Daesh's armed men started pulling out last night and completed their withdrawal this morning," the senior officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Rutba is now free of Daesh."
The Iraqis are pushing toward Hit, where the jihadis may have just left behind a rear guard to cover their retreat.
The implications of this jihadi retreat trend should not be minimized by over-emphasizing a deep and cunning plan by the enemy:
"It cannot be ruled out however that Daesh is pulling out to try to lure out sleeper cells among the population cooperating with the security forces," the mayor said.
Even if ISIL is leaving sleeper cells behind, this is a victory by forcing ISIL down the escalation ladder. ISIL wants an Islamic state--which means they have to control the territory and people. If ISIL can't hold the territory, they drop down to insurgency and terrorism.
That alone is a victory.
The article wonders why ISIL is pulling out rather than fighting.
I suspect it is because ISIL in Iraq is ripe for a major defeat if we just push the Iraqis forward:
I think we have to consider whether ISIL morale is shaken enough for the Iraqi ground forces (with our air power in direct support) to shatter ISIL's forces with a sharp offensive on the ground in Iraq that makes dramatic territorial gains, rather than the slow clawing back we've seen over the last year and a half.
Will we exploit this apparent enemy problem? Will we even recognize it if it is true?
Part of pushing the Iraqis forward needs to be stepping up our logistics support:
Iraq's military is once again trying to dislodge Islamic State group fighters from the vast Samarra desert, which stretches between newly recaptured territory in Anbar province and the IS-held northern city of Mosul. Yet, as operations move further away from the capital, government forces are increasingly plagued by logistical shortcomings. ...
The U.S.-led coalition agreed that supplying the front with ammunition and food will continue to be a "challenge" for the Iraqi military, but spokesman Col. Steve Warren said he's confident coalition advisers and training will be able to bridge the current gaps.
It isn't just our firepower and combat training that the Iraqis need.
This logistics weakness is a problem but should not be a damning indictment of the Iraqis when you consider that American logistics capabilities were essential to keep our European allies going in the 2011 Libya War despite that being a small virtually one-dimensional war against a minor state wracked by civil war.
For many states whose militaries operate within their borders or close by, logistics can seem like a useless expense.
For America, which must have superb logistics just to move our military overseas even before you think of what we must do to sustain it in combat, logistics is part of our military DNA.
But a lot of people here don't really appreciate what it takes to do what is really quite extraordinary.
Let's make sure that we get the Iraqi offensive rolling soon to take advantage of the apparent ISIL morale problem.
And make sure that when the Iraqi army starts rolling, we help the Iraqis kill the enemy and keep on killing them as long as it takes to crack ISIL in Iraq for good and send them fleeing in terror.
Tip to Strategypage for the title.