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Iraqi PM tours Ramadi to hail city’s liberation from IS

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond congratulated the government in Baghdad after Iraq’s flag was once again raised over Ramadi. The military and pro-government forces have slowly clawed back land, but the fight for Ramadi is the first major battle in which Iraq’s powerful Shiite militia groups have largely been excluded, because of concerns about their presence in the largely Sunni city.

Abadi arrived by helicopter in the battle-scarred city, which lies around 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Baghdad and is the capital of the province of Anbar, an AFP correspondent reported.

But the capture of Ramadi, if it stands, along with the recent recapture of Sinjar, close to the Syrian border, gives the Iraqi Army and their Kurdish allies control over key ISIS supply routes to and from Syria and helps to isolate Mosul.

US President Barack Obama, vacationing in Hawaii with his family, received an update on Monday on the Iraqi forces’ progress in Ramadi, the White House said.

Engineering teams are clearing bombs from streets and buildings.

“I think this fight shows the Iraqis are ready to fight and these calls for USA ground troops are not the best strategy moving forward”, said Ahmed Ali, a senior fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies at the American University of Iraq.

Over the a year ago, the coalition has carried out numerous airstrikes against Daesh targets in both Iraq and Syria, forcing the militant group to withdraw from a number of areas it had previously captured.

“All the infrastructure of the city has been destroyed”, Karboly said. “It will take years to return life to the city”.

Now it’s important for the Iraqi government, working with provincial and local authorities, to seize this opportunity to maintain the peace in Ramadi, prevent the return of Islamic State and other extremists, and facilitate the return of Ramadi’s citizens back to the city, Carter said. On Tuesday, U.S. Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force supporting Iraqi security operations, applauded the Iraqi efforts to combat ISIS. It will be far harder, and much more costly in civilian lives, to drive ISIS out of Mosul, with its million-plus inhabitants, than Ramadi.

General Lloyd Austin, head of US Central Command which is overseeing the US role in the campaign, said Ramadi’s fall “clearly demonstrates that the enemy is losing momentum as they steadily cede territory”. Soldiers could be seen slaughtering sheep in celebration near heavily damaged buildings.

Middle East press reaction to the retaking of Ramadi ranges from hope that this development marks a turning point in the struggle against IS to reminders that the group has yet to be dislodged from other parts of the country. Many residents initially welcomed IS as liberators. But the Sahwas later fell out with the central government, which contributed to the IS group’s resurgence.

The depraved jihadists, also known as Daesh, were forced out of the city by “high-intensity” support from RAF air strikes and reconnaissance over the Christmas period.

Skinner argued that even IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s latest audio message, last week, sounded “less triumphant” than usual.

“These gains attest to the growing confidence and capability of Iraqi forces who are fighting bravely against a ruthless adversary employing suicide bombers, snipers, and improvised explosive devices”, he said.

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