Iraq begins attack to recapture Ramadi from ISIS

Iraq on Sunday asked Ramadi residents to evacuate the ISIS-held city within 72 hours before launching an offensive

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Iraq's armed forces on Tuesday started an attack to dislodge ISIS militants from the centre of Ramadi, the spokesman of the counter-terrorism units Sabah al-Numani told Reuters.

ISIS captured Ramadi, the capital of the western Anbar province, in May.

Iraqi intelligence estimates the number of ISIS militants who are entrenched in the center of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, at between 250 and 300.

Meanwhile, ISIS militants are preventing civilians from leaving Ramadi ahead of an attack planned by the Iraqi army to retake the western city that the militants captured in May, an Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

“There are families that managed to escape the gangs of Daesh,” the spokesman, Naseer Nuri, told Reuters, using a local derogatory name for the group.

“There is intelligence information from inside the city that they are preventing families from leaving; they plan to use them as human shields,” he added, without indicating the number of those who had managed to flee.

Iraqi military planes on Sunday dropped leaflets on Ramadi, asking residents to leave within 72 hours and indicating safe routes for their exit.