Iraqi authorities have signed up 1,000 recruits for a new Sunni militia in the western Anbar province, tasked with fighting the Islamic State group and retaking the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

The Anbar governor, Souhaib al-Ani, inaugurated the militia Friday, describing it as the "beginning of the end" for the Islamic State, which controls an estimated 65 percent of the desert province.

The Islamic State took over much of Anbar in early 2014, including the city of Fallujah and the Iraqi army has been unable to dislodge it, in part because it has not had support from the Sunni tribes that were key in defeating al-Qaida in 2006.

Iraq's Shiite-dominated government had been wary of the Sunnis and reluctant to arm them, claiming many sympathize with the Islamic State militants.