Iraqi forces declare victory in Ramadi

 
Iraqi forces declare victory in Ramadi
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The Iraqi flag is hoisted in Ramadi after the country's security forces say they have recaptured the town from ISIS. Hopefully we are talking about more than a symbolic victory, says researcher.

Iraqi forces said Sunday that IS-fighters who controlled a quarter of the government buildings in the city of Ramadi have been run out. Thus, the Iraqi government has taken back control of the city, which fell into the extremists' hands in May this year.

The IS militants have probably fled northeast of the city, according to military sources. The Iraqi government forces had air support from the international coalition led by the United States in the fight for Ramadi.

Middle East researcher Cecilie Hellestveit hopes the victory is more than a military victory.

- The problem is that IS has had strong alliances with some community groups in the city. So if it turns out that these groups now turn their backs on ISIS, this is a great victory. I hope we are talking about a political victory rather than purely a military victory, says Hellestveit.

If the offensive in Ramadi has succeeded, it's going to be the second major city the Iraqi government manages to take back from IS. The town of Tikrit north of the country was recaptured back in April.

After Ramadi, the army plans to drive IS out of the major city of Mosul, according to the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Hellestveit believes that a possible reoccupation of Mosul is harder than the reconquest of Ramadi.

- Tikrit, Ramadi and Mosul are completely different fights. There are several challenges in Mosul. The city means a lot more to ISIS, and they have strong support among many there, says Hellestveit.

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