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Iraq Launches Ops to Drive IS Out      05/26 06:23

   Iraq on Tuesday announced the launch of a military operation to drive the 
Islamic State group out of the western Anbar province, where the extremists 
captured the provincial capital, Ramadi, earlier this month.

   BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq on Tuesday announced the launch of a military operation 
to drive the Islamic State group out of the western Anbar province, where the 
extremists captured the provincial capital, Ramadi, earlier this month.

   Iraqi state TV declared the start of the operation, in which troops will be 
backed by Shiite and Sunni paramilitary forces, but did not provide further 
details.

   A spokesman for Iraq's Shiite militias said the operation will "not last for 
a long time" and that Iraqi forces have surrounded the provincial capital, 
Ramadi, from three sides.

   Ahmed al-Assadi, who is also a member of parliament, told reporters that new 
weapons are being used in the battle "that will surprise the enemy."

   The Islamic State group seized large parts of Anbar starting in early 2014 
and captured Ramadi earlier this month. The fall of the city marked a major 
defeat for Iraqi forces, which had been making steady progress against the 
extremists over the past year with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes.

   Security forces and Sunni militiamen who had been battling the extremists in 
Ramadi for months collapsed as IS fighters overran the city. The militants 
gained not only new territory 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, but 
also large stocks of weapons abandoned by government forces as they fled.

   Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Sunday that Iraqi forces had "vastly 
outnumbered" the IS militants in Ramadi but "showed no will to fight."

   Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said 
the government was surprised by Carter's remarks, and that the defense 
secretary "was likely given incorrect information."

   Al-Abadi has called on Shiite militias to help Iraqi troops retake the Sunni 
province. The militiamen have played a key role in clawing back territory from 
the IS group elsewhere in Iraq, but rights groups accuse them of looting, 
destroying property and carrying out revenge attacks. Militia leaders deny the 
allegations.


(KA)


 
 
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