Iraqi troops on Sunday declared their first major victory against Islamic State (IS) as they retook control of Ramadi by seizing a key government complex in the provincial capital.
After encircling the city for weeks, the military captured the central administration complex in central Ramadi which had been the last extremist stronghold in the city.
“By controlling the complex this means that we have defeated them in Ramadi,” Reuters quoted a military spokesman as saying.
“The next step is to clear pockets that could exist here or there in the city.”
State television broadcast footage of troops, Humvee vehicles and tanks advancing through Ramadi streets amid piles of rubble and collapsed houses.
Television also showed nighttime celebrations in mainly Shi’ite cities south of Baghdad for the victory in Anbar, with people dancing in the streets and waving Iraqi flags from cars.
The capture of Ramadi, capital of mainly Sunni-Muslim Anbar province in the Euphrates River valley west of the capital, deprives IS militants of their biggest prize of 2015, Reuters noted.
Officials did not give any immediate death toll for the battle. The government says most civilians were able to evacuate before it launched its assault.
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