The city of Ramadi, capital of the large, western province of Anbar, has been liberated from the so-called Islamic State’s rule, according to Iraqi officials there. The national flag has been raised over the city’s complex of government buildings, declaring to the world that the jihadist group has been driven out of the city.
Iraqi Army forces captured the government compound on Sunday, forcing out or killing IS fighters and suicide bombers who had been attempting to hold the buildings.
Spokesman Brigadier Yahya Rasul has called this “an ‘epic’ victory”. He also stated, “Ramadi has been liberated and the armed forces of the counter-terrorism service have raised the Iraqi flag above the government complex”.
“By controlling the complex this means that we have defeated them in Ramadi,” said Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for government forces.
Although the city has been declared liberated, some pockets of resistance may remain. Operations to clear out any remaining IS fighters will continue. According to Brigadier General Majid al-Fatlawi of the Iraq Army’s 8th Division, the main task now is to clear out the hundreds of explosive devices planted on roads and in buildings by IS forces.
The operation to recapture the city began back in early November. The effort was reinforced a US-led military coalition providing training, arms, and over 600 air strikes. The US military called the success a “proud moment for Iraq”, adding, “the coalition will continue to support the government of Iraq as they move forward to make Ramadi safe for civilians to return”.
Salim al-Juburi, speaker of Iraq’s parliament, congratulated the security forces on their victory in a statement released Sunday, “This great victory has broken the back of Daesh and represents a launchpad for the liberation of Nineveh.” Nineveh is a northern province, or governorate, home of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. Mosul is the largest population center controlled by IS, with a population of roughly 2 million.
Although a significant victory, much of Ramadi has been devastated by the fighting, and re-establishing basic services and restoring normalcy to the city is expected to take quite a while.
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