Iraqi forces have begun a counterattack to reclaim control over Ramadi -- the capital of the country’s largest province -- just days after it was seized by militants of the Islamic State group. On Saturday, Iraqi government forces, aided by Shiite militias, began an offensive in the town of Husaybah, located 4.5 miles east of Ramadi, according to media reports.
“Military operations to liberate Husaybah … have begun,” an Iraqi police colonel told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “So far, the Husaybah police station was liberated, as well as the area around it. The operation is making significant progress.”
The fall of Ramadi, which is located only 70 miles west of Baghdad, was a major victory for ISIS in Iraq and was widely perceived as a crushing setback to the U.S.-backed efforts to halt the advance of the militant group. Ramadi is the second major city in Iraq, after Mosul, to fall under ISIS control since June last year. The fall of the city also came as a setback to the Iraqi government’s plan to launch an offensive to reclaim Mosul.
Saturday’s offensive to retake Ramadi is also witnessing “wide participation” of tribal fighters, AFP reported, citing local officials.
Meanwhile, militants of ISIS are believed to be advancing towards the city of Fallujah, located less than 50 miles from Baghdad, to try to absorb more territory in the Anbar province.