Iraqi troops who have fought their way deep into the Islamic State stronghold of Ramadi were consolidating their positions on Friday ahead of a planned final assault to capture the city.Soldiers were clearing bombs from roads and homes in districts of Ramadi they had already taken since launching their assault on the city on Tuesday, state TV said.
Successfully recapturing Ramadi, a provincial capital in the fertile Euphrates River valley just two hours drive from Baghdad, would be one of the most important victories achieved by Iraq’s armed forces since Islamic State militants swept across a third of the country in 2014.
The Iraqi government forces are backed by air support from an international coalition led by the United States. Shi’ite militia units backed by Iran, which have played a major part in other government offensives, have been kept away from the battlefield in Ramadi to avoid angering Sunni Muslim residents.
Ramadi, capital of mainly Sunni Muslim Anbar province, was Islamic State’s biggest prize of 2015, abandoned by government forces in May in a major setback for Baghdad that forced Washington to look hard at its strategy against the militants.
The Baghdad government has long said it intended to recapture Ramadi before launching an offensive against Mosul, the largest city in Iraq’s north and Islamic State’s main stronghold in the country.
Read more: Yahoo News