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Friday 28 April 2017

Iraqi forces seize neighbourhood on outskirts of Islamic State-held city

Iraqi anti-terrorism forces watch a military operation to regain control of the western suburbs of Ramadi (AP)
Iraqi anti-terrorism forces watch a military operation to regain control of the western suburbs of Ramadi (AP)

Iraqi troops have retaken a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Ramadi, a provincial capital west of Baghdad that was captured by Islamic State earlier this year, officials said.

The retaking of the area comes just over a week after Iraqi forces announced the capture of the Palestine Bridge, completing the encirclement of the city.

IS captured Ramadi in May, dealing the biggest blow to Iraqi forces since the fall of Mosul nearly a year before. The government soon announced a counter-offensive, but progress has been sluggish.

The development is the first significant incursion into Ramadi since Iraqi forces and allied Shiite militiamen, backed by US-led coalition air strikes, last month announced a major offensive to free Anbar province's capital.

Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the Iraqi special forces unit fighting in Ramadi, said the troops liberated the south-western Tamim neighbourhood.

"This area is considered an important region for Daesh," added Mr al-Numani, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

He cautioned there is still a long battle ahead, and that the Warar River, a tributary of the Euphrates, separates the troops in Tamim from the centre of Ramadi.

"We cannot give a specific time we will liberate the city," said Mr al-Numani, adding that IS had "destroyed many of the bridges" over the river.

On Monday, the US-led coalition said it had carried out 20 air strikes in Iraq, six of which targeted IS units, weaponry and positions near Ramadi.

Press Association

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