Shi'ite fighters Isis Iraq
Shi'ite fighters fire a multiple rocket launcher during clashes with Islamic State militants in Salahuddin provinceAhmed al-Hussaini/Reuters

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has reportedly visited a military base in the Anbar province to discuss the 'next battle' against Islamic State (Isis).

Al-Obadi said in his visit on Wednesday (8 April), "Our stand and next battle will be here in Anbar to fully free it, and we will be victorious against IS like we were in Tikrit".

The speech, which was released by his media office and published in the Arab media, comes more than a week after the first and largest military operation against IS in Iraq came to a bloody end with a victory for the Iraqi forces and accompanying militias in Tikrit.

Military forces said the offensive was the first of many large government operations to retake swathes of Iraq captured by IS militants.

Anbar province, which covers much of the west of Iraq, is the largest governorate in the country and shares borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It contains major cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi.

Military officers say that the retaking of Anbar will prove strategically crucial in isolating Isis within Syria, because it shares a border with the country and is close to IS's Syrian strongholds.

These military operations are vital to minimising and removing the control of IS in Iraq and their strongholds especially in areas such as Fallujah, which lies in the Anbar province.

However, the battle is expected to be brutal, as the previous battle for Tikrit, which pitted the jihadists against a 20,000-strong Iraqi force backed by shia militias as well as the US-led coalition, led to significant losses.

The deputy leader of the Anbar council, Faalih al-Isawi, told Asharq Al-Awsat, "We have been looking, with Mr al-Abadi, into efforts of organising, militarising and preparing people from local clans to stand side by side with government forces in the military operation which began to launch two days ago to free the cities of Anbar form the hold of Isis".

The Anbar province council held the emergency session, headed by council chair Sabaah Karhoot, on Wednesday evening, discussing the security situation and preparing the military operations.

Arab media sources say that the Anbar council have begun wider operations in the surrounding area, freeing 80% of the Sajaariyah area at the entrance to the city of Ramadi.

The Prime Minister has yet to officially announce the commencement of the battle for Anbar.