Update: Iraqi forces declare victory, say Ramadi has been ‘fully liberated’ from ISIS

(See updated story below)

Iraqi forces are close to defeating ISIS in Ramadi, a major Iraq city that fell to the militant group earlier this year. Troops have entered a former government compound that was captured by ISIS militants, forcing all of the militants to retreat from the compound.

This morning, AFP News reported that Iraqi forces were just 300 meters from the provincial government headquarters. If the headquarters fall to Iraqi forces, ISIS would be handed one of its biggest defeats since they captured a third of Iraq in 2014.

“We expect to reach the compound in the next 24 hours,” said Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the Iraqi counter-terrorism force that is leading the attack. “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.”

Although al-Numani said that forces were near the compound, a second source told BBC that Iraqi forces have already entered. The BBC source said that troops had taken one building, and were preparing to push on further and capture more of the headquarters.

Ramadi, a mainly Sunni Muslim city 80 miles west of Baghdad, would be the second major city retaken by Iraqi government forces after Tikrit was reclaimed in April. If Iraqi forces succeed, they will turn the city over to local police and a local Sunni tribal force after it’s secured.


The Iraqi government forces are supported by the United States-led international coalition. The Shi’ite forces, supported by Iran, have been kept away from the mission to reclaim Ramadi. Government forces feared secretarian tensions would interfere in the fight, although Iran-backed forces are assisting Iraq against ISIS in many other locations.

If the Iraqi troops succeed, they will likely continue on to Mosul, the biggest population center under ISIS control in Iraq and Syria. Taking away Mosul would be a colossal defeat for ISIS that would deprive them of their largest source of income — oil fields and taxes on Mosul citizens. The fall of Mosul would effectively end ISIS’s current state structure in Iraq.

Update: 12/28/15 — BBC News is reporting that the Iraqi army has declared victory in the the city of Ramadi, west of capital Baghdad, over the Islamic State. The military effort which began in November would mark the first major victory for the Iraqi forces since the city of Ramadi fell to ISIS control in May.

“We believe that we do have full control of the centre of Ramadi,” Muhannad Haimour, spokesman for the Anbar governor, told the BBC.

“But we’re being very careful in declaring victory until we have an official announcement from the prime minister’s office.”

Iraqi soldiers moved in to retake the former government compound on Sunday after sniper fire stopped and aerial surveillance detected no human activity.

An Anbar security source told the BBC on Monday that Iraqi forces had taken over the complex completely, finding “nothing but rubble and earth mounds, as most of its buildings were blown up” by IS.

The source said it might still be a few days before “full liberation” of the city is declared.

Watch a report from euronews in the video below:

Featured image via Flickr

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