IS Kills Dozens of Iraqi Soldiers Near Ramadi

IS Kills Dozens of Iraqi Soldiers Near RamadiIS Kills Dozens of Iraqi Soldiers Near Ramadi

At least 47 Iraqi soldiers have been killed in a series of attacks by the self-styled Islamic State terrorists near the strategic city of Ramadi, military sources said.

The first attack took place overnight on the headquarters of the 3rd rapid deployment force and other military barracks in the villages of Qutainiyah and Zuwaiyah, near Zankurah town, the sources told Al Jazeera on Monday.

At least 22 soldiers were killed and a further 16 security personnel were injured in the attack.

On Monday afternoon, two separate IS suicide car bombers struck Iraqi Security Force convoys in the villages of Safiyrah and Abu Taiban, about 30 km northwest of Ramadi. At least 25 soldiers were killed and another 20 were injured in the twin attacks. Iraqi forces declared victory over IS in Ramadi in late December and have since cleared most of the western city. Since being pushed from the center of Ramadi, IS has launched near-daily attacks on Iraqi forces, especially on its outskirts.

Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital where around half a million people once lived, was lost to IS in May 2015. The US-led coalition carried out more than 600 airstrikes in the area from July to December last year. The insurgents returned to the desert town of Rutba in western Iraq on Monday, less than a day after vacating it, officials said.

The mayor of the remote town in Anbar had warned when IS pulled out that the militant organization may just be testing the population’s allegiance.

“Daesh has reestablished its control on the city of Rutba ... which it had left the previous day,” said a senior officer in the Jazeera Operations Command in charge of the area, using an Arabic acronym for the group.

“Daesh came back from Al-Qaim with armored vehicles and artillery,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They deployed them on the outskirts of the town and at the main entrances, as if to defend it from any attack by the security forces.”

Rutba is far from the government forces’ main bases and any large-scale operation would require planning and the approval of the country’s top military leadership.