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Iraqi Forces in Final Push to Regain Ramadi from IS

  • VOA News

A member of Iraq's counter-terrorism forces monitors his surrounding in a street in Ramadi's Dhubbat neighberhood, adjacent to Hoz neighborhood, Dec. 25, 2015.

A member of Iraq's counter-terrorism forces monitors his surrounding in a street in Ramadi's Dhubbat neighberhood, adjacent to Hoz neighborhood, Dec. 25, 2015.

Iraqi military commanders say they have gained control of the main government compound in the contested city of Ramadi, and that engineers were still clearing the site of explosive devices left behind by fleeing Islamic State fighters.

By late Sunday, Iraqi forces were still hours or more away from declaring total victory, with the head of Iraqi military operations telling the Associated Press that the push for full control of the city was hampered by suicide bombers, snipers and booby traps. Commanders said IS extremists still controlled as much as three-quarters of the city as fighting progressed.

As dusk fell, it was not clear how many civilians remained in central Ramadi, 100 kilometers west of Baghdad. But an Iraqi spokesman earlier said that most residents had taken shelter at a nearby hospital.

There were no reliable casualty reports as fighting raged on Sunday. But medical sources in Baghdad told the French news agency that more than 90 Iraqi troops were wounded and hospitalized on Sunday alone.

Iraqi Security forces enter the heavy damaged Huz neighborhood in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Dec. 26, 2015.

Iraqi Security forces enter the heavy damaged Huz neighborhood in downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Dec. 26, 2015.

After months of preparation, Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes pushed into the center of the city last week, in a concerted effort to recapture the city that fell to IS fighters in May.

At that time, Iraq's military said government forces expected to seize full control of the city in a few days.

The U.S. military said it carried out at least 29 airstrikes on IS targets in the past week, with more targets hit on Sunday.

Officials said airstrikes Saturday targeted vehicles operated by IS fighters and a factory used to make suicide bombs attached to vehicles. Sniper positions also were hit.

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