Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ramadi Battle- Iraqi Troops Advancing amid Heavy Coalition Airstrikes Ramadi Battle- Iraqi Troops Advancing amid Heavy Coalition Airstrikes.​ Iraqi Forces Fighting for Ramadi Push Toward City Center BAGHDAD — An assault by Iraqi forces to wrest control of Ramadi from the State reached the edges of the city center Tuesday night in a battle that was months in the making and a critical test for the Iraqi government. Accompanied by heavy American airstrikes, the push into the city by a mix of Iraqi soldiers, police officers and Sunni tribal fighters began overnight. Iraqi officials described the assault as a fierce urban battle, with their forces facing car bombs, sniper fire and explosive traps. Around 300 State fighters are believed to be hunkered down in the northern reaches of the city. If Iraqi forces manage to reassert control over Ramadi — the provincial capital of Anbar Province, in the Sunni Arab heartland — it would be the most important of a series of military setbacks for the State since its explosive expansion across Iraq that began with the capture of Mosul last year. Continue reading the main story RELATED COVERAGE Mourners carried the body of one of the soldiers killed in the strike near Falluja on Friday.U.S. Airstrike Killed Iraqis by Accident, Officials SayDEC. 19, 2015 Carries Out First ‘Serious’ Attack in Northern Iraq in Months, U.S. Says DEC. 17, 2015 A member of the Iraqi counterterrorism forces inspected an arms depot in the Tameem district of Ramadi that belonged to State members.Iraqi Forces Advance in Campaign to Retake Ramadi From DEC. 11, 2015 In early April, Iraqi forces and Shiite militias drove the State out of the city of Tikrit, and in October retook control of the northern city of Baiji and its oil refinery. Last month, Kurdish and Yazidi forces assaulted the northern city of Sinjar, driving out fighters with the State, also known as The capture of Ramadi, 60 miles from Baghdad, would give the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi a badly needed morale lift, and a successful cooperative effort with the country’s alienated Sunnis. But more important, it would allow his often disparaged military to reverse a humiliating loss. Ramadi fell to the State in May, in a sudden collapse after a long battle that exposed multiple weaknesses in the government’s ability to fight the militants, including stark military shortfalls and disorganization, and an unwillingness by the government to arm or send reinforcements to help Sunni tribesmen who were fighting the militants. The rapid advances on Monday and Tuesday held out hope that after months of preparation, the government had finally marshaled a large enough force to prevail in Ramadi and begin a wider operation to fight the State in other areas of Anbar Province. “I think the fall of Ramadi is inevitable,” Col. Steven H. Warren, the United States military spokesman here, said Tuesday. But he added, “That said, it’s going to be a tough fight.” Other crucial battles, like the ones for Tikrit and Baiji, dragged on for weeks or months, and it remained to be seen whether the State would quickly melt away. Over the past month or so, Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters have encircled Ramadi. Two weeks ago, they seized a large neighborhood, Tamim, on its southwestern outskirts. “We went into the center of Ramadi from different axes, and we started clearing residential areas,” Gen. Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the army counterterrorism unit in charge of the offensive, said in a statement Tuesday. He predicted that “the city will be cleared within the coming 72 hours.” Six hundred to 1,000 State fighters were said to have been in Ramadi when the offensive began two weeks ago, but several hundred of them have been killed in heavy fighting since then, according to Iraqi and Western officials. Those remaining did not appear to be giving up easily. They destroyed three bridges over the Euphrates River to prevent security forces from entering the city, according to Gen. Ahmed al-Belawi, the leader of a battalion of Sunni tribal fighters. Colonel Warren said that Iraqi forces had crossed the river by deploying “floating bridges” capable of moving fighters and heavy equipment across the water, as American troops had trained them to do. Al Jazeera reported that 14 soldiers and 17 tribal fighters were killed by a suicide car bomber in Albu Diab, northwest of the city center, and that at least 12 militants had been killed. MSNBC released a video that it said showed an State counterattack on the eastern edge of the city, and it quoted a tribal fighter saying that at least seven State militants had been killed. Those casualty numbers could not be independently confirmed. Iraqi airplanes dropped leaflets on Sunday urging residents of Ramadi to evacuate

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