(Iraq)—The Iraqi city of Ramadi has fallen to Islamic State (ISIS) after government forces abandoned their positions, officials say. (Photo: Iraqis flee ISIS/via ANS)
The police and military made a chaotic retreat after days of intense fighting, leaving many of its population, including Christians, to flee for their lives, knowing the deadly fate that awaited them if they remained.
One media report said that bodies, some burned, littered the streets as local officials reported the militants carried out mass killings of Iraqi security forces and civilians. Online video showed Humvees, trucks and other equipment speeding out of Ramadi, with soldiers gripping onto their sides.
“Ramadi has fallen,” said Muhannad Haimour, a spokesman for the governor of Anbar province. “The city was completely taken… The military is fleeing.”
The BBC says that the US refused to confirm the capture, saying the situation was “fluid and contested” and it was too early to make “definitive statements.”
Ramadi is the capital of Iraq’s largest province, Anbar, and is just 70 miles west of Baghdad.
A statement purportedly from Islamic State (ISIS) said its fighters had “purged the entire city.” It said IS had taken the 8th Brigade army base, along with tanks and missile launchers left behind by troops.
A very well-placed source in the Anbar governor’s office told the BBCRamadi was now under the full control of Islamic State, and all government troops had withdrawn.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had ordered troops to stand their ground, saying he was deploying Shia militia to the city.