In one of the biggest triumphs of the extremists, the Iraqi city of Ramadi was seized by the Islamic State on Sunday. According to officials in Anbar, despite the U.S.-led airstrikes, Ramadi has fallen prey to Islamic State after the Iraqi forces deserted their weapons and vehicles to flee the provincial capital.
The militants carried out a mass killing in Ramadi. Burnt bodies were scattered in the streets. Iraqi security forces and civilians were killed. Online video shows trucks and other vehicles making their way out of Ramadi.
“Ramadi has fallen,” Muhannad Haimour, a spokesman for Anbar province, said as Iraqi forces withdrew from the city. “The city was completely taken. … It was a gradual deterioration. The military is fleeing.”
The U.S.-led coalition said on Sunday that it conducted seven airstrikes in Ramadi over the last 24 hours.
“It is a fluid and contested battlefield,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman. “We are supporting (the Iraqis) with air power.”
Last year the Iraqi government successfully drove away the Islamic State. With increasing threats, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered security forces not to leave their posts across Anbar province, fearing that the Islamic State might capture the entire desert region.
Anbar provincial council Sabah Karhout informed that by late Sunday a large troupe of Shiite militiamen had arrived at a military base near Ramadi, possibly to take part in the counter-offensive attack.
“We welcome any group, including Shiite militias, to come and help us in liberating the city from the militants. What happened today is a big loss caused by lack of good planning by the military,” Sunni tribal leader Naeem al-Gauoud shared to the Associated Press.
On Friday, the U.S. military command sounded confident it will regain power in Ramadi.
“We’ve seen similar attacks in Ramadi over the last several months which the (Iraqi security forces) have been able to repel,” said Marine Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley, chief of staff for the campaign against the militants.