ISIS withdraws from key parts of Ramadi, Iraqi military says

Story highlights

  • Iraqi military sources say ISIS withdrew from several key government buildings in Ramadi
  • ISIS attacked Ramadi Thursday with armored vehicles and suicide bombers

(CNN)ISIS fighters pulled out of key parts of Ramadi on Saturday after fierce fighting with Iraqi government forces backed by coalition airstrikes, according to two Iraqi security sources in the city who did not want to be named because they're not authorized to speak to the media.

ISIS withdrew from the provincial headquarters building, which they left booby-trapped, and the central police headquarters, which they burned, the sources said.
    The Iraqi Ministry of Defense said Iraqi security forces made significant gains in the city and now control the central part of the city, including 75% of al-Malaab neighborhood.
    Journalist Mitchell Prothero of McClatchy Newspapers told CNN the battle for Ramadi is far from over.
    He said ISIS forces didn't withdraw from the government compound buildings -- they abandoned them to move into residential neighborhoods where they'll be less likely to be hit by coalition airstrikes.
    "They don't really care about [a government building] once the symbolism of it falling has been made apparent on TV and in the media," he said. "They've got their eye not on a symbolic prize at this stage but the actual substantive one of taking over a city of 900,000 people and resisting the coming counterattack," he said.
    The violence marks the latest in the tug-of-war for Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province.
    The city is just a few miles from an Iraqi army headquarters that ISIS blew up in March and 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Baghdad. Ramadi is strategically located in the middle of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, which is largely controlled by ISIS.
    On Thursday, ISIS pushed into Ramadi, using armored bulldozers and at least 10 suicide bombings to burst through gates and blast through walls, according to a security source who has since left the city.
    Dozens of militants followed them into the city center and ISIS raised its trademark black flag over the provincial government building.
    On Friday, the United States announced that it is "expediting" weapon shipments to Iraq because of the current fighting in Ramadi.