One of the biggest challenges facing Iraqi special forces as they try to recapture territory from the Islamic State comes in persuading local communities with a deep distrust of the Iraqi government to reveal any ISIS sympathizers living among them.
That challenge was clearly exposed in a recent Vice News documentary produced by two journalists who embedded with Iraq’s elite counterterrorism force – the Golden Division Special Forces unit – on the front lines in western Iraq’s Anbar province in March.
The video followed the special forces as they approach the city of Hīt, which was recaptured by the Golden Division in April after falling to the jihadists when they swept through Anbar province in 2014. Correspondent Ayman Oghanna explains that the Golden Division’s leader, Major Salam, relies heavily on the men in local councils to determine who remains in their village and is sympathetic to ISIS.
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