On the morning of 16 September, according to the Security Media Cell, joint security forces launched the fifth phase of Operation Will of Victory. Security forces involved include multiple elements of Anbar Operations Command and Mid-Euphrates Operations Command, supported by CF and Iraqi Air Force aircraft. This extensive clearance operation is intended to clear desert areas in southern Rutbah district and along the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border, as well as rural areas along the Karbala and Najaf provincial borders. According to the commander of 26th PMF Brigade, Maytham Zaidi, no significant effects were initially reported.
The timing of Operation Will of Victory-5 is likely intended to correlate with the Muharram holy month and approaching Arba’een, which is scheduled to take place on 19/20 October. The tomb of Imam Hussein in Karbala city forms the focal point for the event, where millions of Shi’as travel to the site annually. In addition, GoI officials and Saudi counterparts recently announced an intent to reopen the Arar Border Crossing Point in southern Rutbah district in mid-October. Isolated desert areas to the west of Karbala city and in southern Rutbah district host resilient IS staging areas and infiltration routes which threaten the adjacent provinces of Baghdad, Babel, and to a lesser extent Karbala.