Iraqi forces push deeper to try to liberate all of Ramadi

Iraqi forces push deeper to try to liberate all of Ramadi
Military vehicles of the Iraqi security forces patrol in the city of Ramadi, January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
4 years ago

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RAMADI – Iraqi forces had almost recaptured most of the city of Ramadi, an army spokesman said on Saturday, and were fighting to recapture the northeastern parts of the city where militants of the Islamic State (IS) were still hiding out.

Backed by air cover from the international coalition and Iraqi Air Force, troops of the Counter-Terrorism Forces recently captured al-Sufiya.

The militants were pushed to Ramadi's eastern suburbs, but almost all of the city, which was battered by U.S.-led air strikes against IS, remains off-limits to its nearly half a million displaced residents, most of whom fled before the army advance.

"Troops of Counter-Terrorism forces are now on the frontlines of the eastern parts of Ramadi city following the full recapture of Sufiya district,” said Major Salam Khaled of Counter-Terrorism Forces. “The main task of the Counter-Terrorism Forces is to chase remaining terrorists in Ramadi city and in the eastern parts of the Ramadi city."

"We killed 90 terrorists inside Sufiya district and we have information that a group of four or five terrorists is hiding in Sufiya district and we are still searching for them. We obtained this information from families we have evacuated from Sufiya district," Khaled added.

Iraqi troops pushed deeper into the heart of the last remaining district held by IS in the city of Ramadi, despite being slowed by bombs and booby traps, army spokesmen said on Saturday.

The city is the capital of mainly Sunni Muslim Anbar province. The government said it would be handed over to the local police and to a Sunni tribal force once it was secured.

Ramadi was IS’ biggest prize of 2015, abandoned by government forces in May in a major setback for Baghdad and for the Iraqi troops that have been trained by the United States since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

After Ramadi, the army plans to move to retake the northern city of Mosul, the biggest population center under IS control in Iraq and Syria.