Iraqi forces retake areas around Ramadi

Reinforcements for Iraqi anti-terrorism forces arrive at the Ramadi Stadium after regaining control of the complex and the neighboring al-Bugleeb area. (AP)

Iraqi forces have retaken several areas north and west of Ramadi as efforts to close in on the Anbar provincial capital seized by ISIS extremists in May intensify, officials said Wednesday.

An operation involving 2,000 troops backed by air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition led to the recapture of several neighborhoods from the ISIS.

A brigadier general from the Anbar operations command said those included Zankura, Albu Jleib, Al-Adnaniyah and parts of Albu Risha and an area known as Kilometre 5.

“The Iraqi security forces also took control of the main road west of Ramadi and they are now using it to support the forces positioned to liberate Ramadi,” Adhal Fahdawi, a member of the provincial council, told AFP.

According to the U.S.-led coalition's daily tally of air strikes in Iraq and Syria, a total of 27 strikes have been conducted in the Ramadi area since the start of October.

“The coalition's air support has played a big part in this progress,” Fahdawi said. “If operations continue at this pace, I expect the liberation of Ramadi to be possible by the end of the month.”

Ahmed al-Assadi, spokesman for the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary organization also involved in the operation, even predicted it would happen “in the next few days”.

Iraqi officials, including Assadi and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, had said immediately after ISIS fighters blitzed the security forces out of Ramadi in mid-May that a reconquest would be a matter of days.

The Iraqi forces' advance has been sluggish however, sparking mounting criticism of the US-supported effort to train and equip Iraqi fighters in Anbar.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48