File photo of Iraqi Special Forces with the Kurdish Peshmegra paramilitary force, deploying in Kirkuk, in June 2015
Iraqi forces have been advancing towards the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq which has been under Daesh control since May, and are likely to retake it soon, a senior Iraqi army official has revealed.
The commander of the Anbar operation, Major General Ismail Mahlawi, said that Iraqi forces are advancing into Ramadi city centre and pushing closer to its main government buildings, adding that Iraqi forces have encountered little resistance from the militants.
A spokesperson for Iraq’s Anti-Terrorism agency, Sabah Al-Numan, said that Iraqi forces are expected to retake Ramadi during the next 72 hours, pointing out that the army has not faced strong resistance inside the city “with the exception of some snipers and suicide bombers”.
Meanwhile, Iraqi military sources said 16 Iraqi military personnel and counter-terrorism forces were killed and 12 others wounded in a booby-trapped car driven by a Daesh suicide bomber in Jereche area, north of Ramadi.
The sources said Daesh militants clashed with Iraqi troops after the bombing, which forced the army to retreat to Al-Maamel area in northeast Ramadi.
Iraqi forces have been able to regain control of several areas in the city following clashes with Daesh militants. Daesh currently controls the eastern part of the region while the Iraqi army controls the western side.
Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the US-led coalition battling Daesh, said in an interview with Aljazeera that it would be difficult to estimate the time necessary to liberate the city but that it will not be short, pointing out that the militant group has been in the city for months now, which makes it possible for them to place ambushes and explosives that could hinder the progress of the Iraqi forces.
Warren told reporters that the Iraqi security forces have managed to cross the Euphrates River from the southern entrance to the city of Ramadi using floating bridges “to move combat soldiers to the central neighbourhoods in the city of Ramadi.”
He explained that the coalition forces directed 33 air strikes as part of their support for the troops advancing towards Ramadi city centre.