Iraqi army prepares for final push to take Ramadi from ISIS

By REUTERS
December 27, 2015 12:05
1 minute read.

BAGHDAD - Iraqi troops were getting ready on Sunday for a final push to take the remaining district held by Islamic State in the city of Ramadi, army spokesmen said.

Recapturing Ramadi, which fell to the militants in May, would be one of the most significant victories for Iraq's armed forces since Islamic State swept across a third of the country in 2014.

The soldiers are within 300 meters (330 yards) of the provincial government compound, the target of the attack they launched on Tuesday, Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the counter-terrorism force that is leading the fight on the government side, said.

``We expect to reach the compound in the next 24 hours,'' he told Reuters. ``Booby trapped houses and roadside bombs are all over the streets, they have to be cleared; air surveillance is helping detect car bombs and suicide bombers before they get to us.''

Ramadi is the capital of the mainly Sunni Muslim Anbar province in the fertile Euphrates River valley, just two hours drive west of Baghdad.

If the offensive in Ramadi succeeds, it will be the second main city to be retaken by the Iraqi government after Tikrit, in April. Officials said it would be handed over to the local police and to a Sunni tribal force once secured.

Ramadi was Islamic State's biggest prize of 2015, abandoned by government forces in May in a major setback for Baghdad and for the Iraqi troops trained by the United States since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.


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