Iraqi forces storm downtown Ramadi in bid to oust ISIS occupiers

The Washington Post reports: Iraqi forces began an attack on downtown Ramadi on Tuesday, in what they hope will mark a final push to wrest control of the western city from Islamic State militants.

The offensive began at around 10 a.m., with Iraqi counterterrorism troops crossing the Euphrates River to storm the Bakir neighborhood and advancing on the city’s main government compound, the Iraqi military said in a statement. Iraqi commanders said they were encountering limited resistance.

Ramadi has been under the control of the extremists since May, when it fell despite an ongoing U.S.-led air campaign in support of Iraqi troops. Backed by intensified airstrikes, Iraqi forces have encircled the city in recent weeks in an offensive that is seen as a key test of their ability to recapture urban areas from the Islamic State.

Much of the city’s center remains in the hands of the extremists, with booby traps and remaining civilians likely to hamper progress. Iraqi commanders, however, have said they believe they can completely retake it by the end of the year. [Continue reading…]

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