Iraqi security forces on Tuesday recaptured a large area on the southwestern side of Ramadi from the Islamic State, which overran the city in May, officials said.
Retaking the al-Tameem area from IS is a significant breakthrough for Iraqi forces, which have been fighting for months to secure territory around Ramadi, a major city west of Baghdad and the capital of the vast Anbar province.
“Today, our forces completely cleared the al-Tameem area after a fierce battle against Daesh gunmen,” Sabah al-Noman, the spokesman for Iraq’s counter-terrorism service, told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
IS fighters “had no choice except to surrender or fight, and they were completely destroyed,” Noman said.
Major General Hadi Irzayij, the police chief for Anbar, confirmed that al-Tameem had been retaken as did Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Joint Operations Command.
“The liberation of Al-Tameem will greatly help in speeding up the liberation of the city of Ramadi,” Rasool said.
“Iraqi forces are ready and close to entering the center of the city,” Irzayij said.
Iraqi forces were working to clear bombs planted by IS in Al-Tameem, which is bordered by a branch of the Euphrates River that divides it from the next jihadist-held area.
IS overran large parts of Iraq in June 2014, including major territory in Anbar, which stretches from the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the western approach to Baghdad.
Shifting parts of Ramadi, located 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Baghdad, had been held by anti-government fighters since the beginning of 2014.
But IS did not succeeded in completely overrunning it until May of this year.