Sunni tribesman in the central Iraqi city of Haditha are being instructed to stand down by the Islamic State (ISIL), before the terror group surges through the town.
Town by town, communities around this spot have fallen to ISIL, including Fallujah, Ramadi and Hit.
But one piece of infrastructure inside Haditha could be particularly helpful in the group’s hopes of a caliphate.
Haditha, about 150 km from the Syrian border, is Iraq’s second biggest hydro electric generator and holds a six-mile-long dam.
The Independent reports that people in Haditha are struggling and are living an existence cut off from the rest of the world.
While its citizens live in hardship, ISIL are preparing to make a move on Haditha as its next target.
“It’s like we’re not living in Iraq,” Israa Mohammed, a resident, 38, said. “There’s no way in or out. It’s like we are an island in the desert.”
Ms Mohammed made the comments as she waited for a food aid delivery to her town last week.
One of the city’s main defenders, Major General Ali Daboun, spoke to some of the first reporters to gain access to the town in more than a year.
He spoke about ISIL’s most recent assault in Haditha.
His voice broke down with emotion as he described the 37 suicide car bombs in the area since ISIL launched its offensive on the area.
“All the sectors in the country have a hard job, but we have an exceptionally hard job,” he said.
The approximately 150 km of land east of Haditha to the capital Baghdad is controlled by ISIL, after the group’s push through Iraq.
Around 96,000 people remain in Haditha, said mayor Abdelhakim al-Jughaifi.
“The people are suffering a lot because of the siege,” he said. “Then also Daesh are attacking all the time.”
In May, a 50 kg sack of flour inside Haditha was selling for $840 USD.
Prices have dropped recently as aid starts to trickle into the town, however they’re still difficult for residents to afford.
Locals complain when aid arrives escorted by tribal fighters or the army, it fails to get them.
They say it is instead given to certain local tribes or sold on the black market.
“From time to time, supplies arrive, and we don’t get anything,” said 50-year-old Samir Mishal, who had bought a 50 kg bag of flour.
The foreign coalition, led by the US, has provided “critical assistance” because 300 US marines are stationed nearby and because of the town’s dam.