Iraqi troops fully capture Ramadi, reopen road to Baghdad

The Iraqi military captured Ramadi's city center from Islamic State forces in December but for weeks continued mopping up pockets of militants in eastern neighborhoods.
By Fred Lambert  |  Feb. 9, 2016 at 6:08 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

RAMADI, Iraq, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Iraq said Tuesday its military completely recaptured the city of Ramadi, reopening a road to Baghdad after weeks of mop-up operations against Islamic State militants.

After losing Ramadi to an IS attack in May, Iraqi security forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, recaptured the center of the city in December.

However, Iraqi troops faced several more weeks of fighting with IS forces in neighborhoods to the east.

IS suicide bombers reportedly killed at least 28 security personnel Thursday in both Ramadi and neighboring Fallujah, the same day Iraqi troops cleared IS fighters from the Sijariya district just east of Ramadi.

On Tuesday, Iraqi officials said security forces had captured the eastern districts of Khalidiya and Husaybah and had "managed to open the Ramadi-Baghdad road that passes through Khalidiya."

Iraq's ministry of defense praised local police, the Iraqi army's 8th and 9th Brigades and the Hashid Shaabi, a Shia paramilitary force operating in Iraq with Iranian support, saying they "fought a courageous battle."

The total amount of troops killed and injured in the battle for Ramadi is unclear, but U.S. officials said the Iraqi army suffered more than 1,000 casualties, including 100 troops killed, while assaulting the city center late last year.

Security forces are now dismantling networks of improvised explosive devices left behind by IS militants.

A special operations commander told Tuesday his troops evacuated Husaybah, removing at least 1,500 civilian residents while bomb technicians and engineers began disarming IEDs.

Ramadi is the capital of western Iraq's Anbar province and was the setting of bloody battles between U.S. troops and Sunni insurgents during the American occupation of the country.

Tuesday's announcement came as Iraqi military officials said at least 22 IS fighters perished in a coalition airstrike on a village near al-Baghdadi, to the west of Ramadi. The report coincided with a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense saying the coalition conducted three strikes near Ramadi and seven near al-Baghdadi.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories