Retaking Ramadi: victory declared, battle yet to be won
The operation to recapture Ramadi from IS militants started a week ago, led by Iraqi ground forces and allied Sunni tribesmen and supported by coalition airstrikes.
The 'liberation' of Ramadi, capital city Anbar province, was quickly declared by Iraqi ground forces upon recapturing the government compound in the city.
"Yes, the city of Ramadi has been liberated," announced joint operations spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool in a televised statement on Monday, "The Iraqi counter-terrorism forces have raised the Iraqi flag over the government compound".
The liberation of Ramadi follows that of other cities and towns, including Jurf al-Sakhar, Amerli, Dhuluiyya, Tikrit and Baiji, confirmed Rasool.
Yet despite advances made by the Iraqi ground forces in the city and their capture of the governmental compound, Ramadi is not completely liberated.
"The recapture of the governmental complex does not mean that Ramadi is liberated," security expert Wathiq al-Obeidi tells The New Arab, "Large areas of the city are still under IS [group] control."
|Ramadi is not completely liberated|
"The government complex only represents a small part of Ramadi," Obeidi added, "But leaders of the ground forces operations seem to want to pre-emptively pronounce events to affect the morale of IS [group] militants."
Iraqi forces faced little resistance from IS militants in their retaking of the compound and have captured several IS militants who said they were abandoned by their leaders in the past few days.
"Iraqi forces took over the government compound with very little resistance from IS militants," Salman al-Aythawi, leader of a Sunni allied tribe told The New Arab.
"But the ground forces are currently facing difficulties in defusing explosives planted by IS militants in and around the government compound," Aythawi added.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi army and allied tribesmen continue to make advances to the north of the city.
"The ground forces have been able to clear the roads between Albu Faraj and al-Jazeera Bridge after fierce fighting between the army and IS militants who withdrew after fighting," Aythawi said.
Coalition airstrikes have also played a vital role in allowing the Iraqi armed forces to advance.
"The coalition intensified airstrikes on IS bases that has allowed Iraqi forces on the ground to advance and declare victory," Aythawi added.
IS group militants have withdrawn from the government compound in Ramadi, heading for Samarra and Khalideya islands, leading to fears of a regrouping and surprise counterattacks.