Iraq Deploys Tanks to Stop IS Push for East

Iraq Deploys Tanks to Stop IS Push for EastIraq Deploys Tanks to Stop IS Push for East

Iraqi security forces on Tuesday deployed tanks and artillery around Ramadi to confront Islamic State militants who have captured the city in a major defeat for the Baghdad government and its western backers.

Fresh from conquering Ramadi, IS is pushing farther east, launching small-scale attacks against the government-held city of Khalidiya where Iraqi officials hope to stop the group’s advance, witnesses said Tuesday, Reuters reported.

After Ramadi fell on Sunday, Shiite militias allied to the Iraqi army had advanced to a nearby base in preparation for a counterattack on the city, which lies in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, just 110km northwest of Baghdad.

As pressure mounted for action to retake the city, a local government official urged Ramadi residents to join the police and the army for what the Shiite militiamen said would be the “Battle of Anbar.”

The White House said a US-led air campaign would back multi-sectarian Iraqi forces in their attempt to regain Ramadi, whose fall exposed the limits of US airpower in its battle against the extremist group in both Iraq and Syria.

IS fighters set up defensive positions and laid landmines, witnesses said. The insurgents were also going house to house searching for members of the police and armed forces.

An Iraqi official also said on Wednesday that the government has granted conditional entry to Baghdad for thousands of displaced people fleeing violence in nearby Anbar Province.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 40,000 people have been displaced from Anbar Province since Friday.