Iraqi forces retake Ramadi

Members of the Iraqi security forces hold an Iraqi flag with an Islamic State flag which they had pulled down in the city of Ramadi on Dec 28.
Members of the Iraqi security forces holding Iraqi and ISIS flags in Ramadi on Dec 28, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

Iraqi forces have scored a big win against Islamic State In Iraq and Syria extremists by regaining control of Ramadi - the capital of the mainly Sunni Muslim Anbar province in the Euphrates River valley west of Baghdad - which fell in May and became ISIS' biggest prize this year.

The government in Baghdad says the next target will be the northern city of Mosul, by far the largest population centre controlled by ISIS in either Iraq or Syria.

The authorities gave no immediate death toll from the battle for the city. They have said most residents were evacuated before the assault.

Iraqi troops yesterday were reported to be trying to clear booby traps planted by retreating ISIS fighters.

Reports said ISIS used civilians as human shields to escape the battle when it became clear their last stand in Ramadi was doomed.

The Iraqi government has said Ramadi would be handed over to local police and a Sunni tribal force, a measure aimed at winning over the community to resist ISIS.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'Iraqi forces retake Ramadi'. Print Edition | Subscribe