Ramadi is a city in central Iraq, about 68 miles west of Baghdad. It is the capital of Al Anbar Governorate (Anbar Province). The city extends along the Euphrates and is the largest city in Al-Anbar.
Over the weekend ISIS moved into towns just to the north of Ramadi sending thousands fleeing on foot into the city. ISIS had already blocked off access from the south months ago, and the west was contested territory. The east, until now, was not just a sketchy safe zone but the only viable entrance and exit…..
“Ramadi is under siege from all sides, I consider the city to have fallen.”
~ Major Aref al-Janabi (Police Chief)
More than 2,000 families have fled the Iraqi city of Ramadi with little more than the clothes on their backs, officials said Thursday, as the Islamic State group closed in on the capital of western Anbar province, clashing with Iraqi troops and turning it into a ghost town.
The extremist group, which has controlled the nearby city of Fallujah for more than a year, captured three villages on Ramadi’s eastern outskirts on Wednesday. The advance is widely seen as a counteroffensive after the Islamic State group lost the city of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, earlier this month.
Hundreds of U.S. troops are training Iraqi forces at a military base west of Ramadi, but a U.S. military official said the fighting had no impact on the U.S. soldiers there, and that there were no plans to withdraw them.
The fleeing Ramadi residents were settling in the southern and western suburbs of Baghdad, and tents, food and other aid were being sent to them, said Sattar Nowruz, an official of the Ministry of Migration and the Displaced.
The ministry was assessing the situation with the provincial government in order “to provide the displaced people, who are undergoing difficult conditions, with better services and help,” Nowruz said.
Sporadic clashes were still under way Thursday, according to security officials in Ramadi. Government forces control the city center, while the Islamic State group has had a presence in the suburbs and outskirts for months. They described Ramadi as a ghost town, with empty streets and closed shops.
Anbar’s deputy governor, Faleh al-Issawi, described the situation in Ramadi as “catastrophic” and urged the central government to send in reinforcements.