Iraqi Forces, IS Clash in Anbar

Iraqi Forces, IS Clash in AnbarIraqi Forces, IS Clash in Anbar

Iraqi security forces entered the University of Anbar in the western city of Ramadi on Sunday and clashed with Islamic State militants inside the compound, the joint operations command said in a statement.

“We announce to you the entry of the counter-terrorism forces into the University of Anbar. They are now engaging in battles to clean it up from the remains of IS and dismantling bombs and clearing roads,” the statement broadcast on state television said, Reuters reported.

Capture of the sprawling complex, which a spokesman said had been used as an insurgent command base, could advance government efforts to retake Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province, after its fall to IS in May.

Security forces and militia groups have launched an offensive in the Sunni heartland, but progress has been incremental.

Security forces advancing toward the nearby district of Al-Tamim had encountered IS positions enforced by bombs and razor wires, the statement added.

A spokesman for Iraq’s counter-terrorism forces, which were taking a lead role in the battle, said the troops had managed to recapture most of the university buildings after launching a surprise offensive.

“The university represents a significant stronghold and a key command base used by top IS commanders to orchestrate all battles in other parts of Ramadi,” said Sabah al-Noamani.

He said government forces were seeking to separate the university from nearby districts to cut supply routes to retreating militants.