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In recent weeks, the world has watched the battle to save Syria's border town of Ain al-Arab from ISIS.One Iraqi intelligence officer in Anbar estimated that while as many as 60,000 soldiers may be listed on the books in reality there are no more than 20,000 across the province.In contrast, the size of ISIS forces has not changed since the summer – when pro-government Sunni fighters warned that Anbar could fall – pointed out Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. military's Central Command. Speaking to Pentagon reporters Friday, Austin acknowledged Anbar's situation was fraught. In far western Anbar, the Ain al-Asad airbase which supplies tribal fighters and Iraqi forces holding on to the Haditha Dam, is expected to hold out.Gen. Faisal Zobaie, police commander for the town and who fought Al-Qaeda in 2007 in Fallujah, told Reuters how he scrambled to reach the Americans and ask for airstrikes to hit the massed fighters surrounding his community.Zobaie said he had met U.S. diplomats and officers at a meeting in Baghdad days earlier who had urged the fighters to flush out ISIS fighters so the U.S. military could bomb them. By the time Zobaie reached U.S. contacts, the ISIS fighters had hidden in neighboring villages and concealed their weapons.
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