Islamic State seizes government center in Ramadi

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An Islamic State fighter battles inside the Ramadi government center.

The Islamic State advanced into the heart of Ramadi, the capital of the western Iraqi province of Anbar, and raised its flag over the government center after launching a complex attack that included six suicide bombers, one a British fighter. The loss of the government complex, which has been under siege since the Islamic State renewed its push to take control of Ramadi in April, is a major blow to the Iraqi military and government, which have sought to regain the initiative in Anbar after a string of losses there over the past year.

The Islamic State opened its attack by using armored bulldozers to remove concrete barriers that blocked the road to the government center, according to Al Jazeera. Suicide bombers then targeted the entrance to the government compound, a military Humvee, and the Health Ministry. Three more suicide bombers targeted the Anbar Operations Command on the northwestern edge of the city. The suicide bombings were reportedly led by a British suicide bomber known as “Abu Musa Britani.”

Jihadists then stormed the breach and battled with Iraqi forces before taking control of the complex and raising the Islamic State flag over one of the buildings.

The exact number of Iraqi military, Awakening, and Islamic State fighters killed or wounded has not been disclosed. An Iraqi police major told The Washington Post that more than 60 police officers were killed in the fighting. Photographs of the bodies of 10 Iraqi security personnel have been posted online; one of the bodies had a shirt with the logo of Iraq’s Special Forces Paratroopers (the images are too graphic to publish). An Iraqi security official told Al Baghdadiyah News that Coalition aircraft killed 16 jihadists, including “leading figure Akram Muhammad Ali al Farraji,” in an airstrike in the At Ta’mim district in Ramadi.

The Islamic State advanced on the government center despite Coalition air support. US Central Command, which manages Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission to “degrade and defeat” the Islamist group, launched two airstrikes near Ramadi that targeted an Islamic State “tactical unit” and a “fighting position” over the past 24 hours.

Islamic State supporters have announced the victory on social media sites and posted images of the battle and its aftermath.

“The Islamic State announced the full liberation of the government complex, which includes the government building, police, the Directorate of Education building, and the health building,” an Islamic State media operative proclaimed.

Another jihadist proclaimed that “government forces and the Awakening collapsed completely.” An Islamic State supporter on Twitter claimed that Brigadier General Sabah, the deputy police chief for Anbar, was seriously wounded during the fighting.

The Islamic State launched its latest offensive to take control of Ramadi at the beginning of April, several days after Prime Minister Haider al Abadi said that Iraq’s “next stand and battle will be here in the land of Anbar to completely liberate it.” By the end of April, the Islamic State advanced into several neighborhoods and killed and wounded scores of Iraqi troops. [See LWJ report, Islamic State launches assault on Ramadi and Islamic State releases video of recent battles near Ramadi.]

The city has been contested since January 2014, when the jihadist group took control of Fallujah and other cities and towns in Anbar. Most of the province is under the Islamic State’s control.

Pictures from the latest fighting in Ramadi:

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Suicide attack by “Abu Musa Britani”:

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Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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13 Comments

  • Will Fenwick says:

    One thing i have noticed about these IS fighters, i’ve never seen a picture of any of them wearing combat helmets.

    • Moe says:

      Since they more or less fight to die and get to heaven it wouldn’t make sense to use helmets. People may say and think what they want but their fighters are religious and do believe in what they claim.

    • juba says:

      Because the IS fighters are special force. SF rarely seen wearing combat helmet

    • Willie says:

      Do you know why, they need to die to enter the paradise as soon as possible, they cry why not die in the battles and congratulate to deaths of fellow combatants that is typical Islamic Jihad, but they are misusing the word JIHAD by killing innocents, showing aggressive and merciless to their own people,

      • Moe says:

        Willie
        I don’t know if you are making a statement or a comment on my answer but all you say is irrelevant. I said they believe what they say they do, they believe they can kill in this way and get a head start in paradise.
        All armies kill innocents, the Syrian government as retribution. The US kills innocent when they bomb an enemy as casualties, sometimes by not knowing they are there, sometimes calculated. The Islamic State kills as part of their tactic to radicalize the people. Those who don’t follow their view of the Koran and the world are not their people, i don’t think the civilians dying because of the IS would consider the IS their people. It’s impossible to have a war without civilians dying.
        What is the right use of JIHAD is in my view the winner’s idea; it has been used to kill since the beginning and will probably always be. But the winners can after the war claim their interpretation as the “real” one until God(who I don’t believe in) says this is the real way and kills all those who disagree =)

    • They’re Wahabbi-Salafists. They’re Islamic purists. They want to mimic the Sahabah (1st degree earliest Muslims), tabi’i (2nd degree earliest Muslims), and tabi’iin (3rd degree earliest Muslims). That’s why they grow their beards (almost all IS jihadists grow their beards), their bottom clothes are above the ankles (it’s sunnah), and other sunnahs. They’re Sunni extremists who try to implement Quran and sunnahs literally to the most extreme points.

      That’s why they’re called extremists.

  • LibSick says:

    This is directly attributable to the president of the United States, who destroyed the progress the Iraqis and Americans made in Iraq and almost personally turned it over to the ‘JV team’.

  • Mark says:

    ISIS is following the Baghdad Belts strategy, again, just as AQI was successfully doing in 2006 before the surge shut that strategy down.
    They give away Tikrit and take Ramadi…good trade.
    Baghdad is what they have always been after and at this rate they will eventually gain it. Without U.S. ground troops opposing them I think they are good enough to win Baghdad and then every possible assumption that Iraq is still a cohesive state will finally be shredded.

  • Daniel says:

    Hey if you think Obama’s mess is bad, just imagine what an Arab Spring in a Saddam Controlled Iraq would have been like! At least under Bush these guys only existed on the internet!

  • codejunkie says:

    I think it is plain for all to see that the Iraqi military is unable to pull it together. It needs to not only be able to hold territory. It must also be able to launch strikes and counter strikes, orderly retreats and just simply keep itself from being mowed down. The Iraqi people have been through far to much hell. Lets face it, It takes and enormous amount of courage just to stand in the way of the IS advance. Regardless it is pretty clear i think that the Iraqi armies back was broken when the assault on the country took place. Without some very concrete victories and proper control of the battle-space It is difficult for me to see an Iraqi army degradation of IS fighting strength. However, the fact remains that IS cannot consolidate its victories either. It is not recruiting in sufficient numbers to replace its battlefield losses. Ramadi was sacked after a full year of seige. I am unfamiliar with the details of the situation on the ground there, but this has all the markings of a Tet offensive type scenario. As the enemy controls more land it has to maintain that control. I am doubtful it is possible for IS to maintain the situation. This is about as conventional a war as you are going to get in modern times. We can be as critical as we like. Allied forces do not have that luxury. Failure is not an option for Iraq’s people. They know this. Its times like this that you have to maintain discipline and stand firm in your resolve. Win. or Die Trying.

  • Bernie says:

    What a shame. How many Marines died or were wounded defending this same government center 2004-2006?

    • irebukeu says:

      @Bernie. I agree. There is nothing in or around Ramadi that is or ever was worth the life of ONE American soldier. The 2003 Invasion was a total Fiasco.

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