ISIS Puts Up Heavy Fight to Slow Iraqi Troop Advance on Ramadi

December 27, 2015 Updated: December 29, 2015
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BAGHDAD—ISIS militants are putting up a tough fight in the militant-held city of Ramadi, slowing down the advance of Iraqi forces, a senior Iraqi commander said Sunday, Dec. 27.

Iraq launched the long-awaited operation to retake the Anbar provincial capital, which was captured by ISIS militants in May, but after an initial push across the Euphrates River, their progress stalled.

Gen. Ismail al-Mahlawi, head of the Anbar military operations, told The Associated Press that the advance was hampered by suicide bombers, snipers, and booby traps.

Smoke rises from Islamic State positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, on Dec. 25. (AP Photo)
Smoke rises from ISIS positions following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike as Iraqi Security forces advance their position in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, on Dec. 25. (AP Photo)

Iraqi troops will need days to get to the city’s central government complex, said al-Mahlawi, adding that the troops were about 1 kilometer (about half a mile) from the complex on Sunday.

Another officer said the Iraqi army has yet to gain full control of a single Ramadi neighborhood. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

The extremists control large swaths of land in western and northern Iraq and in neighboring Syria.

On Tuesday, Iraqi security forces reported progress in recapturing some areas in the western city of Ramadi, 130 kilometers (about 81 miles) west of Baghdad, from ISIS militants.

The extremists control large swaths of land in western and northern Iraq and in neighboring Syria. The ISIS group has declared a self-styled caliphate on the territory under its control.

After overrunning Ramadi, ISIS destroyed all the bridges around the city. It also demolished the Anbar operations command center and fanned out into the city’s residential areas to set up less conspicuous centers of command.