With Ra­madi en­cir­cled, the Iraqi forces brace for ur­ban war­fare

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BAGH­DAD: Iraqi forces ap­pear bet­ter po­si­tioned than ever to launch an of­fen­sive against Is­lamic State mil­i­tants controlling Ra­madi, now that months-long ef­forts to cut off sup­ply lines to the city are hav­ing an ef­fect, but plenty of risks re­main. The fall of Ra­madi, the cap­i­tal of An­bar prov­ince, to the group in May was the big­gest de­feat for Iraq’s weak cen­tral gov­ern­ment in nearly a year, damp­en­ing its hopes of rout­ing the Sunni mil­i­tants from the coun­try’s north and west.

Re­tak­ing the city of 450,000 would pro­vide a ma­jor psy­cho­log­i­cal boost to Iraqi se­cu­rity forces, who have mostly col­lapsed in the face of ad­vances by Is­lamic State, which last year seized a third of Iraq, a ma­jor OPEC oil pro­ducer and US ally. The ul­ti­mate goal for Iraqi forces is to break Is­lamic State’s grip over its main strong­hold Mo­sul, the big­gest city in the north. Crit­i­cal mo­men­tum is needed in or­der to achieve that.

The Ra­madi of­fen­sive has been im­peded by heavy use of im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices, in­ad­e­quate troops and equip­ment due to gov­ern­ment cash short­ages, and strin­gent rules of en­gage­ment for US-led air strikes, Iraqi army and fed­eral po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in the bat­tle said. Re­cent gains, how­ever, have raised expectations that the mil­i­tary is set to strike, six months af­ter vow­ing to quickly seize the city, 100 miles west of Bagh­dad. Iraq’s elite US-trained counter-ter­ror­ism forces have led the cam­paign to put a cor­don around the city. Backed by ar­moured di­vi­sions of the fed­eral po­lice, they cut off the southern and western ap­proaches to pre­vent re­in­force­ments ar­riv­ing from cities near the Syr­ian border. —Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.