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IS Militants Make Advances in Iraq's Anbar Province

  • Edward Yeranian

Iraqi security forces inspect the site of a bomb attack, after a parked motorcycle blew up, in Kirkuk, Oct. 13, 2014.

Iraqi security forces inspect the site of a bomb attack, after a parked motorcycle blew up, in Kirkuk, Oct. 13, 2014.

Islamic State militants have tightened their grip on Iraq's Anbar province, capturing a training camp in Hit, north of the provincial capital, Ramadi.

Arab media also reported that government forces have evacuated several positions inside Ramadi, including two prisons.

Iraqi government forces continued to give ground to Islamic State militants Monday around Ramadi amid worries the militants might gain control of the entire province.

Iraqi troops withdrew from a training base in Hit, 7 kilometers northwest of Ramadi, but continue to hold the larger Ain al Assad base.

Prisoners moved

Al Arabiya TV reported that Iraqi security forces also withdrew from Ramadi's central prison, as well as the smaller Khalidiya prison. It said the prisoners were taken to other facilities in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The government garrison at Haditha, which controls Iraq's second largest dam, is also reportedly encircled by the militants.

Anbar province Governor Sabah al Karhout told Iraq's Asharqiyah TV the government must send reinforcements to Ramadi and intensify airstrikes in order to prevent the provincial capital from falling.

Karhout said discussions are taking place with the U.S.-led international coalition over what can be done, and Anbar is asking the Iraqi central government for a brigade and air cover to prevent the fall of the entire province.

He said the Islamic State group controls nearly 75 percent of Anbar and its fall would lead to the fall of Baghdad, Karbala and Babil province.

The Anbar provincial council issued an appeal to U.S. and coalition forces to send ground troops and Apache helicopters to help defend remaining government positions against attack by Islamic State militants.

Council member Taha Abdel Ghani said that U.S. ground troops and Apache helicopters would bolster the tribal fighters against Islamic State "terrorists" and would help them to hold remaining positions in Anbar province and potentially retake lost territory.

Abu Ghraib fighting

Arab media reported clashes between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants in the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib.

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman John Dempsey indicated Sunday the United States had used Apache helicopters to prevent an Iraqi unit in Abu Ghraib from falling.

But an Iraqi military commander in Abu Ghraib insisted his forces continue to control the center of Abu Ghraib, including the hospital and market.

British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond met in Baghdad with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ja'afari, saying the British government would help arm Iraqi government forces.

“We have said to the Iraqi government that the support we provide is balanced between the Kurdish security forces and the Iraqi security forces. We are clear that we want to support both parts of this campaign against ISIL," Hammond said, using another name for the Islamic State group.

Iraq must take lead

Hammond stated, however, that “to beat ISIL, it is the Iraqi people, the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government that will have to take the lead on the ground.”

Iraqi TV reported President Fouad Masoum met with Vice President Osama Nujeifi to discuss implementation of a plan to set up a national guard for Sunni regions of the country.

Sunni leaders have long complained the government has based mostly Shi'ite military units in Sunni regions, exacerbating sectarian tensions.

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