"By controlling the complex this means that they have been defeated in Ramadi," said Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the force leading the fight on the government side. "The next step is to clear pockets that could exist here or there in the city.""The complex is under our complete control, there is no presence whatsoever of Daesh fighters in the complex," he told Reuters, using a derogatory Arabic acronym of Islamic State.
Recapturing Ramadi, which fell to the militants in May, would be one of the most significant victories for Iraq's armed forces since Islamic State swept across a third of the country in 2014.
Earlier on Sunday, joint operations command spokesman Yahya Rasool told Reuters that Iraqi forces had "totally encircled" Ramadi, the last stronghold of Islamic State militants (aka ISIS) in the western city."We're clearing the buildings and streets around the complex of bombs in preparation to go in," he said.
Here's a closer view of Ramadi:
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the US will assist the Iraqi army with more personnel and attack helicopters to help it fight ISIS militants, especially in the battle to retake Ramadi.While capturing Ramadi would be a significant victory for the Iraqi forces, experts at the Institue for the Study of War have outlined some challenges:
Ramadi will remain exposed to counter-attacks by ISIS, particularly from the north from ISIS-held Hit district, if the ISF shifts forces away from Ramadi to focus on other operations. Large sections of the city suffered heavy damage during the operation, and resettling internally-displaced persons may prove to be both a logistical and a security challenge.
Finally, it is unclear who will ultimately hold and secure Ramadi against counter-attacks by ISIS. The ISF have stated that local tribal forces and local police would secure recaptured areas, but ISF formations will also be required to hold the area.
It remains uncertain whether those formations are responsive to the Iraqi government or consist of forces loyal to Iranian proxy militias.(Reuters Reporting Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Dominic Evans)
NOW WATCH: Animated map shows the spread of ISIS through Iraq and Syria