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IS attacks Iraqi army base in Ramadi

Iraqi ground forces recaptured Ramadi and claimed victory over IS militants two months ago [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 February, 2016

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Islamic State militants attack an army base in Ramadi on Monday as concerns rise for families returning home to the city due to leftover bombs planted by the extremist group.
The Islamic State [IS] group launched an attack on an Iraqi army base in the country's western city of Ramadi on Monday.

The "surprise" attack took place in the al-Zankoura area north-western Ramadi, an Iraqi security source told The New Arab.

"Dozens of armed IS militants suddenly attacked the army base in al-Zankoura," the source said.

"Clashes between the militants and the Iraqi forces then broke out, leaving many killed and wounded from both sides," the source added.

Meanwhile, Iraqi federal forces have halted five IS suicide attacks targeting an area 35 kilometres [22 miles] from western Ramadi.

"The attackers were immediately killed by the [Iraqi] forces," Raed Jawdat said.

"An IS sniper was also killed in East Husaybah, western Ramadi."

The city of Ramadi, capital of Iraq's Anbar province, first fell to IS militants in May last year marking a major setback for the Iraqi forces at the time.

Iraqi ground forces recaptured the city and claimed victory over IS militants two months ago.

Fighting continued in nearby districts as the army attempts to flush out IS militants who remain present in a number of towns north-western of the city.

Read also: Victory declared battle yet to be won

"There is a real risk if the operation to completely liberate Ramadi slows down," warned military expert and retired former army general, Thamer al-Bayati.

"The army must intensify operations against IS in and around Ramadi," Bayati told The New Arab.

"IS continues to control a number of towns in the northern area," Bayati added. "Their presence there poses a serious threat to the city as a whole, especially since they continue to attack the army."

Civilians returning to Ramadi

Meanwhile, displaced families making their way back to liberated parts of Ramadi face great risks as a result of leftover bombs planted by IS militants, the United Nations mission in Iraq warned on Monday.

Families returning to Ramadi face great risks warned Lise Grande [Getty] 
Eight people had been killed while either surveying their homes or trying to disable an explosive device in the past two weeks, UN development official Lise Grande said.

"People who have been displaced want to return home as quickly as possible," Grande said in a statement.

"Making sure they can do so safely is everyone's responsibility. Booby-traps and IEDs have to be cleared first," she urged.

Bomb disposal teams defused hundreds of explosive devices across the city.

But the lack of funding has slowed efforts to clear Ramadi of explosives, Anbar's governor Suhaib al-Raqi said last month.

Iraq's economic crisis has left the province in debt and entirely reliant on international aid donations to rebuild.
 
An initial assessment of destruction in Ramadi carried out by the UN in January said more than 4,500 buildings have been damaged or destroyed during the battle to reclaim the city.

In Iraq, more than three million people have been forced to flee their homes since January 2014, according to the United Nations.

It estimates that an additional three million people are living under IS control in Iraq.

In contrast, about 500,000 civilians have returned to their homes following the Iraqi military campaigns to bring areas back under government control.

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