Iraqi forces ‘retake ISIL Ramadi stronghold’

CCTV News

Smoke rises after Iraqi Security forces blew up a car bomb belonging to a suicide bomber with Islamic State group at Huz neighborhood in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo/Osama Sami) Smoke rises after Iraqi Security forces blew up a car bomb belonging to a suicide bomber with Islamic State group at Huz neighborhood in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Iraqi forces entered the Huz at dawn, an area housing a government compound in the center of Ramadi, part of a major offensive aimed at dislodging the Islamic State terrorist militia from the western city, an Iraqi official said. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)

Iraqi forces have retaken a former government compound in Ramadi from where Islamic State (IS) group militants have been resisting an army offensive, the military has said.

MOSUL RAMADI IRAQ MAP

The complex was “under complete control” and there was no sign of IS fighters, a spokesman said.

Iraq launched the long-awaited operation to retake the Anbar provincial capital, which was captured by IS militants in May, but after an initial push across the Euphrates River, their progress stalled.

Gen. Ismail al-Mahlawi, head of the Anbar military operations, told The Associated Press that the advance was hampered by suicide bombers, snipers and booby traps.

Al-Mahlawi said he could neither confirm nor deny media reports that IS fighters had pulled out of the government complex by nightfall Sunday. But he cited residents in the area as telling his troops that the IS militants had withdrawn from the neighborhood of Albu Alwan, adjacent to the complex.

Another officer said the Iraqi army has yet to gain full control of a single Ramadi neighborhood. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

On Tuesday, Iraqi security forces reported progress in recapturing some areas in the western city of Ramadi, 130 kilometers (80 miles) west of Baghdad, from IS militants.

The extremists control large swaths of land in western and northern Iraq and in neighboring Syria. The IS group has declared a self-styled caliphate on the territory under its control.

After overrunning Ramadi, IS destroyed all the bridges around the city. It also demolished the Anbar operations command center and fanned out into the city’s residential areas to set up less conspicuous centers of command.

A statement late Sunday from the Iraqi joint command said the operation in Anbar is going according to plans and that Iraqi forces continue to encircle the government complex in Ramadi. It made no mention of any pullout of IS militants from the area.

This story is from the Associated Press.