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Iraqi Forces Drive Islamic State Fighters From Ramadi Stronghold

December 27, 2015
by RFE/RL

Iraqi officials say security forces have taken control of a government complex in Ramadi that has been a stronghold for Islamic State (IS) militants in the government's push to retake the devastated city.

'By controlling the complex this means that they have been defeated in Ramadi,' Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the force leading the fight on the government side, was quoted by Reuters as saying on December 27. 'The next step is to clear pockets that could exist here or there in the city.'

'The complex is under our complete control, there is no presence whatsoever of Daesh fighters in the complex,' Numani added, using a derogatory Arabic acronym for the extremist group.

A victory by Iraqi forces would make Ramadi the second city, after Tikrit, to be retaken by the government in Baghdad.

It would give the government and its allies badly needed momentum to push IS forces out of the rest of its territory, including Iraq's second largest city, Mosul.

Numani told AFP that 'our forces will enter in the coming hours,' saying that roadside bombs and booby traps planted by IS militants on the perimeter of the complex needed to be cleared first.

Because of this, the Iraqi military and government did not immediately declare victory, though celebrations broke out on the streets of several cities.

Backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, Iraqi forces entered the center of Ramadi on December 22 in a bid to recapture the city they lost in May.

Iraqi officials said earlier that IS fighters slowed the government assault with snipers, improvised roadside bombs, and suicide attackers.

Located 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, Ramadi is the capital of Anbar, which extends from the outskirts of Baghdad to Iraq's borders with Syria and Jordan. IS militants control large swaths of the primarily Sunni province.

IS extremists, who control significant territory in western and northern Iraq and in neighboring Syria, have declared a self-styled caliphate.

After overrunning Ramadi, IS fighters demolished all the bridges around the city. They also destroyed the Anbar operations command center and spread out into residential areas to establish less conspicuous command centers.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, AFP, and AP

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/iraqi-fighters-drive-islamic- state-fighters-from-ramadi-stronghold/27451975.html

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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