After declaring Ramadi in the Anbar province liberated in December, the Iraqi government announced that the city is fully under the control of its forces after militants of the Islamic State (IS) group were forced out of its suburbs on Tuesday. Ramadi was taken over by the extremist group in May last year amid reports that government forces fled their posts during the attack. The latest victory will be a morale booster for the government and militia forces backed by the US-led airstrike campaign.
After making the victorious announcement, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi added there would be an extensive cabinet reshuffle to bring in more professionals, technocrats and academic personalities. He said the decision is part of his responsibility and in the interest of Iraq’s march towards safety. He recalled that the current cabinet members were “chosen by political blocs.”
The authority of the government in Baghdad continues to be limited in Iraq despite the recent territorial gains. IS controlled more than a third of the country before the US-led airstrikes began in August 2014 and it is now reported to have lost 40% of it.
The governor of Anbar province Suhaib al-Rawi said the departure of IS makes the issue of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) left behind “an extremely challenging one” while spokesman Colonel Steve Warren of the coalition forces acknowledged that there are “untold thousands” of IEDs in the area.
Lise Grande, UN deputy special representative said “the level of destruction in Ramadi is as bad as anything we have seen in Iraq.”
The government eyes Mosul as its next target. The liberation of Ramadi opens a highway to Baghdad that also runs through Fallujah, another stronghold of IS, laying 50km away from Ramadi.