Iraq re-captures strategic Ramadi city from IS
IRAQ has declared the city of Ramadi liberated from the Islamic State group and raised the national flag over its government complex after clinching a landmark victory against the jihadists.
According to AFP Iraqi forces were seen yesterday brandishing their rifles and danced in the Anbar provincial capital as top commanders paraded through the streets after recapturing the city they lost to IS in May.
Pockets of jihadists may remain but the army said it no longer faced any resistance and that its main task was to defuse the countless bombs and traps IS left behind. “Ramadi has been liberated and the armed forces of the counter-terrorism service have raised the Iraqi flag above the government complex,” Brigadier General Yahya Rasool announced on state television.
The former government headquarters in Ramadi was the epicentre of the fighting but Iraqi forces did not rush in when IS pulled out because the entire area was rigged. “Daesh has planted more than 300 explosive devices on the roads and in the buildings of the government complex,” said Brigadier General Majid al-Fatlawi of the army’s 8th division.
Several local officials said IS used civilians as human shields to escape the battle when it became clear their last stand in Ramadi was doomed. A senior army commander said that his forces were still sweeping the outskirts of the city for potential pockets of jihadists.
IS had an estimated force of around 400 fighters to defend central Ramadi a week ago. It is not clear how many were killed and how many were able to pull back to positions outside the city.
The US-led anti-IS coalition praised the performance of the Iraqi forces in retaking Ramadi, an operation in which it played a significant role, training local forces, arming them and carrying out what it said were 600 air strikes since July.