The Anbar Provincial Council has announced that at least 3,000 Iranian-backed militias from ‘Hashd al-Shaabi,’ known also as Popular Mobilization Forces, have arrived in Anbar province to liberate ISIS-held provincial capital of Ramadi, AP has reported.
“About 3,000 Hashd al-Shaabi fighters came from Babel province and have already deployed to the Habbaniya military base, 30 kilometers east of Ramadi,” the council said in a statement Monday.
The US-led coalition against ISIS has conducted 19 air strikes near the Iraqi city of Ramadi over the past 72 hours, a spokesperson for the coalition told Reuters on Monday.
"The Coalition increased its support in Ramadi today, in order to fulfill all requests of the Iraqi security forces," said the spokesperson.
The strikes targeted ISIS fighting positions, armoured and technical vehicles, and buildings they control.
Iran’s defense minister Hossein Dehghan arrived in Baghdad on Monday for talks with his counterpart.
Hossein Dehghan will hold consultations with Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi, according to a ministry official.
He added that the visit had been planned before the Iraqi government troops suffered one of its worst losses with the fall of Ramadi to ISIS a day ago.
ISIS killed up to 500 people - both Iraqi civilians and soldiers - and forced 8,000 to flee from their homes as they captured the city of Ramadi, a provincial official told AP on Monday.
"We do not have an accurate count yet, we estimate that 500 people have been killed, both civilians and military, and approximately 8,000 have fled the city. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but ISIS have in the past killed hundreds of civilians and soldiers in the aftermath of their major victories,” an Anbar spokesman, Muhannad Haimour, told AFP.
Haimour has given numbers only for the last three days, since Friday, when the battle for the city entered its final stages.
The UN has said as many as 114,000 residents fled Ramadi and surrounding villages at the height of the violence.
US Secretary of State John Kerry says he is confident about the fight against ISIS, despite setbacks such as the loss of Ramadi.
"I am convinced that as the forces are redeployed and as the days flow in the weeks ahead that's going to change, as overall they have been driven back ... I am absolutely confident in the days ahead that will be reversed,” he stated.
Iraqi officials announced on late Sunday that ISIS had full control over Ramadi.
ISIS militants took full control of the city after local police and the Iraqi army left the city. The militants have reportedly set a gas station and several government buildings in the city on fire.