Iraqi troops impeded as Daesh blows up bridge in Ramadi
A member of Iraq's counter-terrorism forces inspects damaged caused during battles in the al-Tameem district of Ramadi, a large city on the Euphrates 60 miles west of Baghdad on December 9, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye)
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Daesh militants in Iraq's Ramadi have destroyed a lock on the Euphrates River which served as a bridge as pro-government forces advance further in the fight to retake the western militant-held city.
“Daesh forces trying to stop our progress bombed the last bridge which connects the city center,” said Major General Ismail al-Mahlawi, the head of military operations in the Anbar Province, adding that the destruction of the lock leaves some 300 Daesh militants trapped in the center of the provincial capital Ramadi.
Daesh had already destroyed all other bridges leading into Ramadi, including those on the Warar River, in a bid to halt the advance of Iraq's military and its allied volunteer fighters.
The operation to retake Ramadi, which was blitzed by Daesh in May, began earlier this month, with pro-government forces managing to record back-to-back victories against the militants. The allied forces seized control of a military complex north of the city earlier this week before they captured the neighborhood of Husaybah on the eastern outskirts of the city.
Iraqis said the destruction of the last bridge into Ramadi proves that the days of the militants in the area are numbered.
Daesh militants are also reported to be destroying the infrastructure inside Ramadi, including buildings and radio towers.
“We've seen this before; they tend to blow up not just bridges, but a lot of infrastructure inside the city,” Muhannad Haimour, the spokesman for the Anbar governor's office, said.
Haimour added that he had received reports showing that Daesh militants had moved their families out of Ramadi and toward the town of Hit northwest of Ramadi about two months ago.
Western Ramadi fully recaptured
Iraqi military and allied volunteer fighters on Thursday managed to clear more areas in the western neighborhoods of Ramadi.
Major General Abdul-Ghani al-Assadi, the commander of Iraq’s counter-terrorism unit, said in a statement that Ramadi’s western neighborhood, a swath of land located between al-Qassem and al-Felestin bridges, is now under the full control of pro-government forces.
The Iraqi commander was referring to al-Ta’meem, a district southwest of Ramadi, which Iraqi forces managed to recapture on December 8.
He said Daesh militants have transferred their weaponry from the area to other parts of the city, adding that his forces are waiting for an order from Baghdad to launch an offensive into the central parts of Ramadi where Daesh militants are holed up.
Iraq’s Interior Ministry also issued a statement, saying at least 22 Daesh militants were killed during an operation in the Jarijab district on the outskirts of the city of Qaem in Anbar.
Daesh began its offensive in Iraq in June 2014. Pro-government forces have managed to push back the militants from some of their major bastions, including the cities of Tikrit and Baiji in Salahuddin Province, while operations continue to retake positions in Anbar and also in the northern province of Nineveh.