World Iraq forces start fightback against IS in Ramadi

Iraq forces start fightback against IS in Ramadi

Iraqi soldiers and Shiite fighters from the popular committees fire towards Islamic State jihadists during clashes
Iraqi soldiers and Shiite fighters from the popular committees fire towards Islamic State jihadists during clashes

Iraqi forces and Shia militias have begun moving against Islamic State militants near Ramadi, officials say.

The action was concentrating on the town of Husaybah, east of Ramadi.

Shia militias began gathering for a counter-offensive after Ramadi’s capture last Sunday. IS militants moved out to face them off.

Ramadi – capital of Anbar province – is only 110km (70 miles) west of Baghdad. Its fall was seen as a major embarrassment for the government.

About 500 people died in the city, and more than 40,000 have fled. The UN says it is very concerned about their situation.

On Friday, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq warned that fighting IS was no longer a “local matter”, and called on the international community to act.

An international coalition has been carrying out air strikes against the militants in Iraq and Syria for months.

“Military operations to liberate Husaybah, seven kilometres (4.5 miles) east of Ramadi, have begun,” a police colonel told AFP news agency.

Witnesses also said they had seen troops move out of their base at Habbaniyah.

About 3,000 Shia fighters had arrived in the Anbar town to prepare the attack to retake Ramadi.

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