Wednesday, December 23, 2015: In a new offensive that was initiated two weeks ago, the Iraqi forces have managed to dislodge the radical militant group Islamic State in the city of Ramadi. It is the second city that has been retaken from the insurgents, after Tikrit.
“We went into the center of Ramadi from different axes, and we started clearing residential areas,” Gen. Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the army counterterrorism unit in charge of the offensive, said in a statement Tuesday. He predicted that “the city will be cleared within the coming 72 hours.”
The city of Ramadi was taken by ISIS in May revealing the government’s weakness in imposing is writ of state in the regions it controls. The capture of the city also exposed Iraqi forces’ flaw in organization and the offensive strategy as well.
However, several months later, the Iraqi forces and a contingent of the Sunni militia, in support from the US and its allies in Europe, have started a military offensive that will end after they have reclaimed the stretches ISIS has taken from them since last year. After Tikrit, Ramadi is the second city that fell back to the legitimate force.
“Victory in Ramadi means a victory for Iraqi security forces,” said Brig. Gen. Yehya Rasool, an Iraqi military spokesman. “It means that our forces have the initiative now, and our forces will now lead the fight everywhere.”
The complete control of the city will be announced in a couple of weeks as the progress is slow because the forces are totally relying on their own strength. They are not taking help from any Shi’ite contingents to avoid any violations of rights.
“The enemy was in complete shock and confusion, which enabled our forces to defeat the enemy there,” Mr. Numani said.
There were one thousand ISIS militants in Ramadi when the offensive was initiated two weeks ago, most of whom have been killed. However, the rest of them who are still not dead are not giving up easily, an Iraqi military official said. The ISIS has blown up three bridges on the Euphrates that slowed the progress but makeshift bridges, provided by the US, held strong to keep the flow of the army across running.
“I think the fall of Ramadi is inevitable,” Col. Steven H. Warren, the United States military spokesman here, said Tuesday. But he added, “That said, it’s going to be a tough fight.”
The Islamic State had taken over one third of the Iraq including three of the biggest cities, Falluja, Ramadi and Mosul. The Iraqi forces are now getting better and better at fighting the insurgents in both urban and guerilla warfare and the assistance of the West in the fight against ISIS will certainly be an extra edge for the Iraqi government.
The victory in Ramadi and Tikrit will be a psychological boost for the Iraqi government and for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who has been searching for a motivation for its forces to fight the insurgency.