Iraq’s Abadi visits Ramadi to celebrate Islamic State defeat – Reuters


BAGHDAD Iraq’s prime minister visited Ramadi on Tuesday, a day after the army took back the western city from Islamic State in the first major success for the U.S.-trained force that fled in the face of the militants’ advance 18 months ago.

Security sources said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who arrived by helicopter with a top military officer at the Anbar University complex in the city’s southern outskirts, would meet commanders from Iraq’s army and counter-terrorism forces, which had spearheaded the offensive.

Abadi later announced the visit himself on Twitter.

The army’s apparent capture of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province in the Euphrates River valley west of Baghdad, marks a milestone for the forces which crumbled when the hardline Sunni Muslim militants seized a third of Iraq in June 2014.

In battles since then, Iraq’s armed forces had operated mainly in a supporting role beside Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias.

Baghdad has said for months it would prove its forces’ rebuilt capability by rolling back militant advances in Anbar, a mainly Sunni province stretching from Baghdad’s outskirts to the Syrian border.

Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, had been slowed in Ramadi by explosives planted in streets and booby-trapped buildings. Security officials said they still needed to clear pockets of insurgents held up in the city and its outskirts.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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