The Islamic State has released new photographs from recent fighting in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. The provincial capital of Anbar came under renewed attack from a multi-pronged Islamic State offensive on Nov 21.
The pictures were produced by the Islamic State’s Wilayat Anbar and then disseminated on Twitter by its supporters. The terrorist organization has taken to releasing its propaganda that way as the social media site has cracked down on official Islamic State accounts. The provincial division (Wilayat) of Anbar is one of the Islamic State’s 18 declared provinces.
The images show the Islamic State utilizing captured M113 armored personnel carriers, firing rocket-propelled grenades (RPG’s) at Iraqi military or tribal militia positions, as well as demonstrate the destruction of several Humvees and Iraqi police Ford F-350 pickup trucks. Several photographs display dead Iraqi military personnel or tribal militiamen, including one picture of a severed head. The last few images show children apparently cheering in the streets while carrying the Islamic State’s flag.
According to Reuters, gunmen attacked Anbar provincial government offices and the police headquarters in the center of the city in the Nov. 21 assault, as well as the al Huz and al Mua’almim districts. Another report indicated that the districts of Albu Hayis, Albu Fahd, and Albu Alwan, which are traditional strongholds of the Sunni tribal Awakening Movement, also came under attack. Al Jazeera reported that “at least 20 soldiers” were killed in the offensive, including Iraqi police colonel Majid al Fahdawi. Fahdawi was reportedly killed by sniper fire in the Mudhiq district of Ramadi.
The battle for control of Ramadi is ongoing. However, CNN has reported that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), with the help of tribal militias and US airstrikes, have pushed the Islamic State back from several areas of the city. The terrorist organization is still putting up a fight near the Anbar Educational Directorate and the governmental complex downtown. Several Arabic-language news sites are reporting that street-to-street fighting in residential areas is also ongoing.
At least 41 people have been killed since the fighting began, including ISF personnel, tribal militiamen and civilians. The Islamic State reportedly murdered 25 members of the Albu Fahd tribe in eastern Ramadi; the bodies were found by Iraqi Security personnel, who believe the men were executed in retaliation for the tribe’s resistance. The losses sustained by the Islamic State in the recent fighting are not clear, but the National Iraqi News Agency reported that 39 of the group’s fighters have been killed. This number could not be independently verified, however.
The southern districts of Al Tam’im, the aforementioned Mua’almim, Thubat, and 5 Kilo, in addition to the 7 Kilo and Albu Aytha areas west and north of the city, are either contested or under Islamic State control. Iraqi security forces are said to be concentrated at the Anbar Operations Command Center, which is north of the Euphrates River. It is thought that the terror organization is already in control of around 60 percent of Ramadi after battles that have raged since its initial assault on the city in January.
This latest Islamic State offensive comes as US Special Forces have begun to implement large-scale training of the Iraqi Army and Sahwa forces at the Al Assad airbase close to Ramadi. President Barack Obama has also authorized the deployment of an additional 1,500 US personnel to Iraq for training purposes; many of these troops will likely be deployed to Al Assad. According to NPR, the trainees include Anbar-based troops of the Iraqi Army’s 7th Division, which has suffered severe setbacks in the province. [For more details, see LWJ reports, Islamic State ambushes Iraqi military column near Ramadi, Islamic State overruns Iraqi military base in Anbar, Islamic State photos highlight group’s grip on Ramadi, and Islamic State photos detail rout of Iraqi Army at Camp Saqlawiya.]
Photos showing the recent fighting in Ramadi can be seen below: