Coalition Planes Pound IS in Iraq’s Ramadi

Coalition Planes Pound IS in Iraq’s RamadiCoalition Planes Pound IS in Iraq’s Ramadi

Coalition air forces pounded positions held by the self-styled Islamic State terrorists in Ramadi on Thursday, Iraqi military statements said, in support of government troops seeking to retake the western Iraqi city and push on to drive the militants from key population centers.

Warplanes from the US-led coalition carried out 27 strikes against insurgent position in the last district they hold in the center of the Sunni Muslim city, which lies on River Euphrates some 100 km west of Baghdad, according to a military statement on state TV.

The long-awaited drive to dislodge the militants from Ramadi the loss of which in May dealt a blow to government efforts to root out IS, started early on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

If captured, Ramadi will be the second major city after Tikrit to be retaken from IS in Iraq. Success would provide a major psychological boost to Iraqi security forces after the militant group seized a third of Iraq, a major OPEC oil producer and US ally, in a sweeping advance last year.

The control of major population centers in Iraq and Syria allows IS to maintain a revenue base, controlling oil resources and large, fertile agricultural areas and possibly plan attacks outside its core territory.

Col. Mohammed Ibrahim, a spokesman for the War Media Cell, said on Wednesday the distance to the Ramadi government complex, the target building in the city center, is 1,700 meters and the presence of civilians is slowing progress.

The ultimate aim for the government is to drive IS from Mosul, Iraq’s largest northern city, and Falluja, which lies between Ramadi and Baghdad, as well as large areas of Syria—the core of what it has declared to be a caliphate.