The IS (Islamic State) group has run away from its last stronghold in Ramadi on Sunday giving Iraqi security forces a landmark victory. Ramadi is the capital of Anbar province.
“All Daesh (IS) fighters have left. There is no resistance. The operation is almost wrapped up,” Sabah al-Numan, the counter-terrorism force’s spokesman was quoted by newsagency AFP.
He also said a major clearing effort was still needed to allow forces to move in.
People celebrated the victory by waving Iraqi flags in various cities.
Parliament Speaker Salim al-Juburi issued a statement congratulating the “heroes of the security forces for a great victory, which resulted in the liberation of the city of Ramadi from terrorism.” The US-led coalition, which was heavily involved in supporting Iraqi forces in Ramadi, also congratulated them on the success of an operation that began soon after they lost the city in May.
“It is the result of many months of hard work by the Iraqi Army, the Counter Terrorism Service, the Iraqi air force, local and federal police and tribal fighters all supported by over 600 coalition air strikes since July,” spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.
Iraq had launched the long-awaited operation to retake the Anbar provincial capital, which was captured by IS militants in May, but after an initial push across the Euphrates River, their progress blocked.
The extremists control large swaths of land in western and northern Iraq and in neighboring Syria. The IS group has declared a self-styled caliphate on the territory under its control.
Earlier, IS had destroyed all the bridges around the city. It also demolished the Anbar operations command center and fanned out into the city’s residential areas to set up less specific centers of command.