Iraqi government forces recaptured a key position outside the city of Ramadi in an essential development in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group, officials said Sunday. The country’s Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) retook the Anbar University campus after the nation’s military lost most of it to the militant group this year.
Aka the Golden Brigade, the CTS raised the Iraqi flag above the university in Ramadi, a city in central Iraq about 68 miles west of Baghdad. Control of this key strategic point in the war-torn country has changed hands a number of times since U.S. troops entered the nation in 2003.
“The Golden Brigade managed to liberate Anbar University with backing from the army as well as air support from the coalition and Iraqi aircraft,” Brig. Gen. Abdelaminr al-Khazraji, deputy commander of the CTS forces in Anbar, said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse. “Our forces liberated the university early Sunday and now have full control of it, following a week of fierce clashes.”
The U.S.-led air coalition has battered Islamic State group positions in the area during the past three days. The U.S. military said five airstrikes were launched on Friday alone as the militant group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS deployed truck bombs against its opponents on the ground.
At least 76 airstrikes have targeted Islamic State group positions since a counteroffensive began July 12, U.S. military officials said.
Dozens of militant fighters are believed to have been killed in the fighting. Even as buildings throughout Ramadi have been destroyed and Islamic State fighters have been captured, the militant group has spread misinformation about what’s happening there.
“They’re continuing to rely on propaganda to mitigate their losses and overstate operational performance,” Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, a U.S. Central Command representative, said in a statement.