Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and his associates had to briefly evacuate an area of Ramadi this week while recognizing Iraqi troops' recapture of the city from the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. Abadi's convoy experienced rocket fire Tuesday as the politician spoke to soldiers near the al-Qasim bridge, Kurdish news outlet Rudaw reported, citing an anonymous military official.
Abadi was not injured in the incident, which occurred when three mortar rounds fell less than half a mile away from his entourage, Reuters reported based on information from three unidentified sources.
"They couldn't really [attack] because it was out of range and they couldn't do any damage," reporter Osama bin Javaid told Al Jazeera. "But it gives you an indication that this area where Iraqi forces are very jubilant about retaking is not completely under their control yet."
Iraqi forces announced Sunday that they had regained control of the center of Ramadi, a city about 70 miles west of Baghdad, after eight months of fighting the ISIS extremists who set up camp there last spring. Reuters called the victory the "first major triumph" for the force, which was trained by American leaders. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter issued a statement saying it was "a significant step forward in the campaign to defeat this barbaric group and restore Iraq's territorial sovereignty."
PM Al-Abadi raised the Iraqi flag in Ramadi and commended the efforts of the Iraqi forces in liberating the city pic.twitter.com/bJDpD5ZCq0
— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) December 29, 2015
Although there were still pockets of resistance and explosives surrounding the city, Abadi visited Ramadi to celebrate the news and plant Iraqi flags. Law enforcement and tribal Sunnis will now control the city.
Abadi also vowed next to free the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, which has been under the fighters' control since June 2014. "2016 will be the year of the big and final victory, when Daesh's presence in Iraq will be terminated," Abadi said in a TV broadcast, using another name for ISIS. "We are coming to liberate Mosul, and it will be the fatal and final blow to Daesh."