ISIS may be on the verge of a significant defeat

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
As Ramadi Nears Liberation, Concerns Over Shia Militias Linger


Iraqi forces believe they are on the cusp of retaking one of the largest cities captured by the so-called Islamic State. Operations to liberate Ramadi have been ongoing since November, but security officials are saying that troops and Sunni tribal fighters have regained control of several districts in the last 48 hours, and are now advancing on the city's main government complex.

"In the coming days will be announced the good news of the complete liberation of Ramadi," Lieutenant General Othman al-Ghanemi told Iraqi state television, Reuters reports.

SEE ALSO: Six U.S. Soldiers Killed by Taliban Suicide Bomber in Afghanistan

Provincial officials told the BBC that most of the city's ISIS militants have fled or died since the government's onslaught started in November. According to General al-Ghanemi, only 300 militants remain, holed up in the city center.

The fall of Ramadi to ISIS militants last May was an especially humiliating defeat for the Iraqi government. The city is located 60 miles west of Baghdad, in the nation's Sunni heartland.

RELATED GALLERY: Saudi Arabian military to combat ISIS

9 PHOTOS
Saudi Arabian military to combat ISIS
See Gallery
ISIS may be on the verge of a significant defeat
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, a drone is used to record a military parade by Saudi security forces in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Saudi security forces, whose faces display the word "Decisive" take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy, File)
FILE - In this Monday, April 20, 2015 file photo, a Saudi soldier aims machine-gun from behind sandbag barricade in the border with Yemen in Jazan, Saudi Arabia. The Saudi air campaign in Yemen is now in its fourth week. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh.(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Saudi security forces show their skills to handle a terrorist attack as they take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia said Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 that 34 nations have agreed to form a new "Islamic military alliance" to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh .(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy, File)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

To avoid inflaming sectarian tensions, the Iraqi government has rejected the aid of the Shia-dominated paramilitary force that helped retake the northern city of Tikrit. That decision has likely delayed victory in Ramadi. But it has also allowed Iraqi security forces the opportunity to claim their first major success without the aid of Shia or Kurdish tribal fighters. Former Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told the BBC that such an independent triumph would give the nation's fledgling military a "huge moral and strategic boost."

But victory is still far from assured. Iraqi security forces will have to contend with the small but highly committed remnants of the city's ISIS fighters, along with "an urban landscape laden with hidden explosives," the New York Times reports.

Further complicating matters are the thousands of civilians who remain trapped in Ramadi. According to the BBC, jihadists carried out mass arrests in recent days, in an effort to prevent the local population from joining the Iraqi state's effort to overthrow ISIS rule.

"It's a very, very difficult battle," Muhannad Haimour, special adviser to the governor of Anbar province, told the network. "Especially with so many booby-traps, explosives and sniper fire against the security forces and tribal fighters."


Read Full Story

People are Reading