Iraqi Army Prepares for Final Push to Take Ramadi from ISIL

Iraqi security forces cross a bridge built by corps of engineers over the Euphrates in Ramadi, December 22, 2015. Picture taken December 22, 2015.   REUTERS/Stringer

Iraqi troops were getting ready on Sunday for a final push to take the remaining district occupied by ISIL in the city of Ramadi, army spokesmen said.

The soldiers are within 300 meters (330 yards) of the provincial government compound, the target of the attack they launched on Tuesday, Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the counter-terrorism force that is leading the fight on the government side, said.

“We expect to reach the compound in the next 24 hours,” he told Reuters. “Booby trapped houses and roadside bombs are all over the streets, they have to be cleared; air surveillance is helping detect car bombs and suicide bombers before they get to us.” Ramadi is the capital of the mainly Sunni Muslim Anbar province in the fertile Euphrates River valley, just two hours drive west of Baghdad.

Recapturing Ramadi, which fell to the militants in May, would be one of the most significant victories for Iraq’s armed forces since ISIL swept across a third of the country in 2014.
Officials said it would be handed over to the local police and to a Sunni tribal force once secured.

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