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Iraqi leader tours liberated Ramadi city




THE Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi yesterday, visited Ramadi, a day after the army took back the western city from Islamic State in the first major success for the forces in many months.

Security sources said Prime Minister al-Abadi, who arrived by helicopter with a top military officer at the Anbar University complex in the city’s southern outskirts, would met commanders from Iraq’s army and counter-terrorism forces, which had spearheaded the offensive.

The army’s apparent capture of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province in the Euphrates River valley west of Baghdad, marked a milestone for the forces which crumbled when the hardline Sunni Muslim militants seized a third of Iraq in June 2014.

In battles since then, Iraq’s armed forces had operated mainly in a supporting role beside Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias.

Baghdad had said for months it would prove its forces’ rebuilt capability by rolling back militant advances in Anbar, a mainly Sunni province stretching from Baghdad’s outskirts to the Syrian border.

Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, had been slowed down in the Ramadi operation by explosives planted in streets and booby-trapped buildings. Security officials said they still needed to clear pockets of insurgents held up in the city and its outskirts.

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