Ramadi liberation – maybe not done
Iraqi Forces reported Monday that they had taken Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, back from ISIS, which has held the city under their control for 7 months. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) took back the main government buildings in the City Center, but they are not done yet.
According to Fox News,
On Monday, Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, drove ISIS militants out of the city center and raised the Iraqi flag over the government complex.
As significant — and symbolic — as the action was, Iraqi military officials said Islamic State fighters were still holed up in various pockets of the city.
The Institute for the Study of War Reported,
The ISF has not yet cleared Ramadi of ISIS, however. The ISF has not yet reported entering, contesting, or clearing certain structures such as the Justice Palace and the Grand Mosque, and ISW has therefore left some areas in downtown Ramadi marked as “ISIS controlled.”
The ISF likewise have not entered a number of neighborhoods in northern Ramadi, IEDs remain emplaced throughout the city, and there are possibly pockets of resistance from remaining ISIS fighters.
Clearing operations are still required both in the city center and in Ramadi’s environs. The ISF continue to conduct clearing operations in areas north of the city center, while operations are still required to clear ISIS pockets from the areas between Ramadi and the Habaniya base, east of Ramadi.
The job of clearing Ramadi is daunting. The Iraqi PM visited the city on Tuesday and congratulated the ISF on taking back the city from ISIS control. It is an “operational achievement” according to the U.S., and a great morale booster for the Iraqis.
They are looking now to take back Mosul and Fallujah, which is an even greater key city. But that one will be an even greater challenge.
The ISF casualty reports for the Ramadi operation have not been released.
One small victory does not make a win for the whole war. Mosul will require large numbers of troops, and the cooperation of the Peshmerga, Iraqi groups, and Sunni politicians. As Iraq plans for Mosul, if they leave only skeleton forces in Ramadi, it would once again leave the city open to ISIS.
Mosul and Fallujah also need to be “liberated,” but the cost and the amount of troops needed may be prohibitive for the ISF. Meanwhile, convincing residents of Ramadi to return will also be an issue. The city is virtually destroyed, and basic services nonexistent.
Can Iraq handle it?