Iraq says airstrikes are critical in the shifting battle for Ramadi

Story highlights

  • Iraqi forces gain ground against ISIS in Ramadi with help from airstrikes, officials say
  • Iraqi forces regained control of a military supply line into Ramadi
  • Fighting near Ramadi government center is less intense
  • Iraqi government says it has made progress in the Diyala province
The battle for control of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, is shifting in favor of Iraqi and tribal forces fighting ISIS militants, Iraqi officials said Monday.
Iraqi forces, with the help of coalition airstrikes, have pushed back ISIS militants and have retaken territory lost after ISIS fighters launched a coordinated assault on the city Friday.
They have also regained control of the only military supply line into Ramadi from a nearby airbase, according to Faleh al-Issawi, the deputy governor of Anbar.
While fighting continues in parts of Ramadi and in an eastern suburb, al-Issawi is optimistic Iraqi forces will be able to retake the city, but only if coalition airstrikes continue, he said.
A fierce battle has been raging since Friday just 1,000 feet from the government complex of Anbar province that houses the regional government and security headquarters. Officials say that ISIS has retreated farther away and the fighting is less intense.
At least 41 people have been killed including security forces, tribesmen and civilians since the fighting began Friday, officials said.
Those casualties include 23 members of the al-Bu Fahd tribe who were found executed in one of the areas retaken from ISIS.
ISIS still controls large parts of Anbar, but Iraqi forces say they've made progress in the past week in Diyala province with the help of coalition airstrikes.
Iraqiya state TV has been reporting that the strategic towns of Jalawla and Saadiya, located a few kilometers apart, have been retaken by Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Iraqi military and police and Shiite militias.
They retook Baiji refinery, the country's largest refinery that was lost to ISIS in June.
Iraqiya TV also aired footage from the city of Khanaqin in the Diyala province showing Peshmerga fighters who were interviewed and talked about their readiness to fight ISIS.