Iraqi Shiite militias make gains against ISIS near Ramadi

Iraqi officials report gains made against ISIS near Ramadi as army and Shiite forces look to recapture the city

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

A joint force of Iraqi soldiers and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) recaptured the Hussiba suburb or Ramadi from fighters from ISIS.

Colonel, Aziz al-Shihawi, an Iraqi police official announced on Saturday that the morning's counter-offensive had succeeded in the liberation the the town. 

"The Hussiba area is now under full control and the forces are now advancing to liberate neighboring Jweibah," he said.

He said that the joint force killed several ISIS fighters in the town, located just seven kilometers outside Ramadi, before the militants retreated to the city.

News of the town’s capture came as the US central command reported that the US-led anti-ISIS coalition conducted four air strikes on ISIS targets in Ramadi.

The strikes reportedly hit fighters, armored vehicles and a fighting position belonging to ISIS fighters. 

The clashes came as the first leg of Baghdad’s attempt to recapture the city captured by ISIS fighters on May 17.

Iraqi soldiers and the PMF, an umbrella organization for Iranian backed and Iraqi funded militia, were deployed from the Habbaniya military base earlier in the day to the town of Khaldiya where they successfully repelled an ISIS assault.

Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s western province of Anbar, was captured by ISIS after weeks of clashes between the group, a small garrison of local police and Sunni tribesmen in the city. 

The central government in Baghdad did not send reinforcements to the city despite repeated pleas from the provincial administration. 

Anbar is home to a Sunni majority, raising concerns due to the involvement of the Shiite militias in upcoming clashes to re-capture the city. 

Shiite militias who entered the province of Tikrit in March were recorded looting homes of Sunni residents before torching them in the town of al-Dour. 

Claims of Shiite militias leading lynch mobs in Tikrit also emerged, one such incident being witnessed by Reuters reported on the scene reporting that two militia officials “took out knives and repeatedly stabbed the man in the neck and slit his throat.”

Coming just weeks after a successful campaign to liberate Tikrit, the loss of Ramadi is a serious setback to the Iraqi government as the city lies just 120 kilometers east of the nation’s capital of Baghdad. 

Over 500 people were killed in the battle for the city as 40,000 civilians, a third of the city’s population, await on the outskirts of Baghdad, denied refuge within the city. 

The United Nations expressed its concern over the growing humanitarian concern on the deteriorating condition on the “Bzebiz” bridge separating the refugees from the city.  

“People are telling us that they have been walking for three or four days in temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius to get to safety. They are exhausted and dehydrated.” 

“Many are sleeping out in the open. Their suffering is unimaginable,” said Salah Noori, head of programs at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

TRTWorld and agencies