BAGHDAD, Dec 23 – Government forces expect to dislodge Daesh militants from the western Iraqi city of Ramadi within days, state TV said on Wednesday, citing army chief of staff Lt. General Othman al-Ghanemi.
If Ramadi is captured, it will be the second major city after Tikrit to be retaken from Daesh in Iraq. It would provide a major psychological boost to Iraqi security forces after the militant group seized a third of Iraq, a major OPEC oil producer and U.S ally, last year.
“In the coming days will be announced the good news of the complete liberation of Ramadi,” Iraqia TV cited the officer as saying.
Eight senior Daesh commanders were killed in air strikes by the Iraqi airforce, Iraqi state TV reported citing a military statement.
“F-16 planes killed dozens of terrorists including eight senior commanders of Daesh in strikes on Hawija and Anbar,” said the statement, using a derogatory name for Islamic State and not giving further details.
Iraq’s armed forces on Tuesday started an attack to dislodge Daesh militants from Ramadi, the capital of the western Anbar province, that they captured in May. Hawija is a city located 210 km (130 miles) north of Baghdad.
Iraq’s armed forces began advancing on Tuesday on the last district held by the militants in the center of Ramadi, a Sunni Muslim city on the river Euphrates some 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad that they captured in May.
Progress has been slow because the government wants to rely entirely on its own troops and not use Shiite militias in order to avoid rights abuses such as occurred after the recapture of the city of Tikrit from the militants in April.
Daesh also controls Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and Falluja, which lies between Ramadi and Baghdad, as well as large areas of Syria—the core of what it has declared to be a caliphate.