After two weeks of clashes, fighters from ISIS have captured the municipality headquarters in the city of Ramadi, the capital of the governorate of Anbar.
Reports have emerged that ISIS fighters gained control of the compound around 2:00 pm local time as photos depicted an ISIS flag hoisted above the complex.
The Lebanese Daily Star quoted a police official on the condition of anonymity stating that ISIS "now occupies the government center in Ramadi and has also raised its flag over the police HQ for Anbar."
ISIS released its own statement confirming the developments on social media sites, reporting that its fighters had "broke into the Safavid to government complex in the center of Ramadi."
Sheikh Hekmat Suleiman, a local tribal leader from the city, told AFP that "Daesh [ISIS] has managed to take over the provincial council and they have raised their flag, The only [government] forces still fighting are confined to a few pockets in Ramadi but they have no command post anymore.”
The news of the city’s fall comes after ISIS militants used an armoured bulldozer to demolish a wall set up as a roadblock to the local police station before detonating the vehicle at the station killing at least 11 police officers. Two other car bombings targeted the city.
"The situation in Ramadi is dire, but the city has not fallen and the battle against criminal Daesh is still ongoing," said Anbar’s governor Sohaib al-Rawi through his official Twitter page.
An army major, speaking on the condition of anonymity told Newsweek that all government forces left in the city had garrisoned themselves in the city’s operations command post and that reinforcements could not come due to ISIS’ control of roads leading to the city.
The major reported that only special anti-terrorism units remained on the field "fighting for their lives" against ISIS militants in the district of Malaab in the city’s center.
Most army and police units have retreated to the area around the operation command to protect it, he said, but some elite counterterrorism forces are "fighting for their lives" in the Malaab district of central Ramadi, where they are surrounded.
“If the government does not send any reinforcements and the coalition air force does not rescue us, I can confirm we will lose all Ramadi by midnight," he said.
"A massacre will take place and all of us will be slaughtered. We have been defending the city for months and we don’t deserve to end like this. It’s humiliating."
His statements came as reports of three car bombs near the military’s central command post have emerged.
ISIS militants began a ramped up effort to take the city in late April following waves of failed attempts to capture it since September.
Anbar’s Deputy Governor Faleh al Issawi on April 27 requested that the central government in Baghdad send reinforcements to Ramadi due to the “catastrophic” situation in the city, as local fighters and police forces were unable to defeat the militants. However, Baghdad never complied to his request.