Close to 55,000 people flee Ramadi, U.N. says

Can the Iraqi government stop ISIS from taking Baghdad?
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Can the Iraqi government stop ISIS from taking Baghdad? 01:48

Story highlights

  • About 55,000 people have fled since ISIS seized Ramadi, a United Nations agency said
  • Forces loyal to the Iraqi military are awaiting orders to attack the city, two officials from a nearby town say
  • Ramadi, capital of the Anbar province, fell to ISIS last week

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN)Close to 55,000 people have fled Ramadi since ISIS captured the city, a United Nations agency said, with most of the displaced persons heading to Baghdad.

Meanwhile, forces loyal to the Iraqi government are awaiting orders to attack Ramadi, two officials from Khalidiyah, a city 25 kilometers (16 miles) to the east of Ramadi, told CNN.
    ISIS fighters swept into Ramadi on May 17, tightening control of the Anbar province and gaining a base of operations 70 miles away from Baghdad. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter publicly criticized the Iraqi army, saying it lacked the will to fight.
    As always happens when ISIS takes a city, thousands of civilians fled. The United Nations Population Fund said close to 55,000 left Ramadi after the ISIS takeover and headed east to Baghdad.
    An estimated 4,000 families, comprising 24,000 individuals, arrived from Khalidiyah on Saturday and another 3,000-5,000 families are expected to arrive in coming days, UNFPA said.
    UNFPA is helping women and girls among the displaced persons by distributing 2,173 dignity kits in the Baghdad area through local partners. The UNFPA website says dignity kits contain hygiene supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, sanitary pads and underclothes.
    UNFPA said 150 dignity kits were sent to the Qurato Camp in the Sulimaniyah Governorate and 2,800 kits will be sent to to the city of Habbaniyeh in Anbar. UNFPA says it has distributed 66,000 dignity kits since June 2014.
    Forces loyal to Iraqi government are on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi waiting for orders to advance on the city now under control of ISIS, said two officials from the Khalidiyah council.
    The order to attack will come from Anbar's Operation Commander, Major Gen. Qassim al-Mahamadi, the officials said.
    The officials said the forces consist of a brigade from the Iraqi federal police and a brigade from the quick reaction force backed by Sunni tribal fighters and al-Hashd al-Shaabi, a predominantly Shiite paramilitary force.
    Meanwhile, one of Iran's senior military leaders said Obama and the United States have been ineffective in the fight against ISIS, according to Iran's state news agency IRNA.
    The head of the elite Quds Force, Soleimani said the United States ''has no will to fight ISIS,'' adding America is ''doing nothing'' when Ramadi has fallen to ISIS and ''war crimes are taking place.''
    ''Today, nobody in confronting ISIS properly except Iran, even the countries that Iran is supporting," he said, apparently a reference to Iraq.