Saturday 1 October 2016

Bombing campaign helps Iraqi forces close in on jihadists

David Blair

Published 24/12/2015 | 02:30

Iraqi pro-government forces cross a bridge over the Euphrates river near Ramadi. Photo: Getty Images
Iraqi pro-government forces cross a bridge over the Euphrates river near Ramadi. Photo: Getty Images

An unprecedented bombing campaign by the RAF has helped Iraqi forces retake most of the strategic city of Ramadi.

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Days of targeted air strikes by the British and the US-led coalition have helped the Iraqi army inch towards the government compound in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's vast Anbar province.

Dozens of families the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) had been using as human shields escaped to safety yesterday as local troops closed in on the jihadists' last redoubts.

Officials estimate that no more than 300 Isil fighters remained.

In the past week, government forces have pressed into the city after seven months of occupation by Isil. If the Iraqi army can retake Ramadi, which has a population of 450,000, it would be their biggest victory against Isil.

Since December 16, the air forces of the American-led coalition have delivered 25 air strikes to support the Ramadi offensive, according to US Central Command.

Of these, nine were carried out by the RAF.

On Tuesday, four RAF Tornados and a Reaper drone provided "continuous close air support" to Iraqi forces, said the British ministry of defence.

At one stage, Isil terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades ambushed Iraqi soldiers as they tried to evacuate the wounded. A Tornado was called in to drop a Paveway laser-guided bomb on the attackers. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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