The months-long fight for the key central Iraqi city of Ramadi now appears to be going ISIS‘s way, with the Islamic terrorist group capturing police headquarters, the Ramadi Great Mosque and even raising its trademark black flag over the provincial government building.
CNN The ISIS push began Thursday, with armored bulldozers and at least 10 suicide bombings used to burst through gates and blast through walls in Ramadi, according to a security source who has since left the city. Dozens of militants followed them into the city center.
Anbar Gov. Suhaib Al-Rawi said the offensive, including suicide-attacks with explosive-rigged cars near security posts, continued into Friday.
Iraqi and allied forces fought back, with state-run Al-Iraqiya TV reporting at least eight coalition airstrikes on ISIS positions and Iraqi helicopters active in support of ground troops. At least 47 Iraqi security forces and 26 civilians were killed in the fighting on Friday, according to two security sources.
Ramadi has been hotly contested between the Islamic State and Iraqi forces for months, displacing at least 114,000 people from the area, according to the Iraqi government and United Nations estimates.
Offering Washington’s take on what’s happening, a U.S. official said Ramadi “remains very fluid.” The official characterized the situation as “50/50,” with Iraqi forces in control of much of the city center and ISIS in the suburbs surrounding it.
“There will be good days and bad days in Iraq,” State Department acting deputy spokesman Jeff Rathke said. ISIS “is trying to make today a bad day in Ramadi.” (Looks like they are succeeding)
He added: “We continue to provide targeted air support in ISIL-held and contested areas, and that includes numerous airstrikes in Ramadi today.”
The violence marks the latest in the tug-of-war for Ramadi. That city is just a few miles from an Iraqi army headquarters that ISIS blew up in March, and it’s also just 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Baghdad and in the middle of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim heartland.