The Fight for Ramadi
After seven months of occupation by the Islamic State, Iraqi army troops have successfully reclaimed a majority of Ramadi. The final blow in the battle for the most populated city in western Iraq came about when an occupied government compound was seized.
Those Islamic State fighters still inside the city offer resistance against Iraqi troops backed by American bombs and fighter jets. In a statement Washington said that at this point declaring victory against the Islamic state would be premature.
That said, if the Iraqi government is successfully in maintaining its hold is Ramadi the tides elsewhere may turn as well. It is the hope of both Iraq and America to eventually reverse the group’s hold on Syria as well.
Last year the Islamic State lost up to 40% of its Iraqi territory at the hands of the Iraqis. Again, the Iraqi army has not gone the fight alone, receiving major help from American JSOC units and aircraft. Last year a member of the Army’s 1SFOD-D was killed during a raid on an IS prison.
Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced the retaking of the city via Twitter, proclaiming the “liberation” of the city. Al-Abadi also now hopes to retake Mosul, located south of Sinjar Mountain.
The Ramadi struggle has been conducted in a series of fits and starts ever since the Summer of 2015, when American-trained Sunni fighters took up arms along side the government. Cooperation between Sunnis and the Shiite government will be pivotal to the success of the retaking of Iraq from extremists.
Abadi in a speech this past week called the effort a cooperative of “different affiliations and religions and sects.” He goes further to say that “the year 2016 will be, God willing, the year of ending the presence of Daesh from the Iraq lands.”
The final push into Ramadi took place around 8am, with tanks and bulldozers breaching walls around the government complex, allowing Brig. General Ahmed al-Belawi to send ground troops into the fight.
Since July, American forces have launched a total 630 air strikes against IS, including three this past week which were aimed at 18 different targets.