Iraq’s armed forces stormed the center of Ramadi Tuesday, a spokesman for the counterterrorism units said, in a drive to dislodge Islamic State militants from their remaining stronghold in a city they captured in May.
The operation to recapture Ramadi, a Sunni Muslim city on the river Euphrates about 100 kilometers west of Baghdad, began in early November after a months-long effort to cut off supply lines to the city, whose fall to Islamic State was a major defeat for Iraq’s weak central government, Reuters reported.
Progress has been slow because the government wants to rely entirely on its own troops and not use Shi’ite militias in order to avoid rights abuses such as occurred after the recapture of the city of Tikrit from the militants in April.
“Our forces are advancing toward the government complex in the center of Ramadi,” the counterterrorism units’ spokesman Sabah al-Numani said.
“The fighting is in the neighborhoods around the complex, with support from the air force.”
Islamic State also controls Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and Falluja, which lies between Ramadi and Baghdad.
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