Iraqi forces storm last ISIS stronghold in Ramadi in bid to push the terror group out of the city they have held since May
Iraq's armed forces stormed last ISIS stronghold in central Ramadi today
Troops said they made most significant incursion into the city since May
Militants allegedly tried to slow their advance with sniper fire and bombs
Losing Ramadi seven months ago was a huge defeat for Iraq government
12:06 EST, 22 December 2015
Iraq's armed forces have stormed the last Islamic State stronghold in central Ramadi in a bid to retake the city that it lost in an embarrassing defeat to the terror group in May, officials have said.
Following today's military operation, troops said they had made the most significant incursion into Ramadi - the capital of the sprawling western Anbar province - since it dramatically fell to militants.
Losing Iraq's Sunni heartland seven months ago was the government's biggest defeat since ISIS militants swept through areas in the country's north and west, including Mosul, in summer 2014.
Advancing: Iraqi soldiers advance their position in northern Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, yesterday
Offensive: The country's armed forces today stormed the last ISIS stronghold in Ramadi in a bid to retake the city that it lost in an embarrassing defeat to the terror group in May. Above, soldiers in Ramadi yesterday
Iraqi forces announced a counteroffensive shortly after the country's second-largest city fell - but progress has been sluggish and clawing territory back from ISIS has proven very difficult.
Today, counter-terrrorism units' spokesman Sabah al-Numani said troops crossed the Euphrates River north of the city and its Warar tributary to the west and pushed into downtown Ramadi.
'Our forces are advancing toward the government complex in the centre of Ramadi,' he said this morning. 'The fighting is in the neighbourhoods around the complex, with support from the air force.'
The offensive to recapture the city centre started at dawn, said Numani.
Military units crossed the river into the central districts using a bridge that was destroyed by the militants and repaired by army engineers, he said.
'Crossing the river was the main difficulty,' he said. 'We're facing sniper fire and suicide bombers who are trying to slow our advance, we're dealing with them with air force support.'
Battle: Pro-government tribal forces hold a position in the Tel Mushaihed area, east of Ramadi, last Thursday
Lookout: Iraqi forces announced a counteroffensive shortly after the country's second-largest city, fell - but progress has been sluggish and clawing territory back from ISIS has proven more difficult than expected (small)