Iraqi Security Forces Advance On Ramadi From Two Sides After Capturing Key Supply Lin
Iraqi Security Forces Advance On Ramadi From Two Sides After Capturing Key Supply Line, Bridge
November 29 2015
Iraqi security forces clash with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Ramadi, on June 15, 2015. Reuters
Iraqi government forces advanced further into the center of Ramadi in western Anbar province Sunday after capturing a bridge on the outskirts of the city. The Iraqi soldiers took the Palestinian Bridge after the U.S.-led coalition carried out airstrikes there last week, cutting off a key supply route for the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
The strikes hit two of the militant group's tactical units and destroyed four of its buildings, among other targets, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement Friday, Reuters reported. The Iraqi forces, made up of Shiite volunteers and soldiers trained by U.S. advisers, captured equipment used by ISIS following the strikes. The weapons included small arms, ammunition and grenades.
174 #CJTFOIR strikes Nov. 21-27. Coalition supported Iraqi Security Forces advance on #ISIL in #Ramadi pic.twitter.com/pp2dB31Gc9
— CJTF-OIR (@CJTFOIR) November 29, 2015
The capture of the Palestinian Bridge provides a clear path into the center of the city from the west. Now the Iraqi soldiers can advance simultaneously on two fronts. Last week, they made their first major advance on the Sunni militant group in six months. Videos and photographs obtained by International Business Times show an Iraqi rapid reaction force dubbed “Roger” -- with tanks and weapons seized in eastern Ramadi -- on the outskirts of the city. They cleared a path of improvised explosive devices hidden in the ground, allowing more troops to advance.
The gains in Ramadi come just a few days after Pentagon spokesman Col. David Warren said Iraqi troops would retake the strategic city "soon." Warren said the government forces have recently outnumbered the Islamic State in Ramadi by "as many as 10 to one," and that the offensive to reclaim the city employs 8,000 to 10,000 fighters.
The battle for Ramadi began last year. Each week, it seemed, ISIS would advance, and then fall back. Local Sunni tribesmen and police were fighting the Sunni extremist group almost entirely on their own, with little help from Baghdad and what leaders said were "few and inefficient" U.S. airstrikes. For a while, despite the lack of support, the Sunni tribesmen stopped ISIS from taking the entire city, fighting as best they knew how.
Then, earlier this year, ISIS took back the city. Some Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province helped the Islamic State group take over the provincial capital, officials there told IBT in May. The tribal leaders provided the Sunni militant group with intelligence, cash and weapons that helped it defeat the U.S.-backed Iraqi military forces and gave it the upper hand in the battle.
The loss of Ramadi showed that ISIS was capable of snatching the upper hand in the battle against the U.S.-backed Iraqi army. Since then, the Iraqi security forces, having been trained and equipped by U.S. advisers to take on ISIS in the city.