The Islamic State jihadist group has captured the central Iraqi city of Ramadi in its entirety amid disputed claims from US and local officials, according to Monday’s media reports.
“The city has fallen,” Muhannad Haimour, Anbar province governor’s spokesman, was quoted by the New York Times.
He added that over 500 civilians and security personnel died in the fight for the provincial capital some 60 miles west of Baghdad.
ISIL claimed late Sunday that it seized Ramadi from Iraq’s security forces, but the US Defense Department that monitors ongoing events was unable to immediately confirm the militant group’s reports.”The situation remains fluid and contested,” the outlet cited Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steven Warren, as saying.
Other reports quoting local officials stated that Iraqi troops were abandoning their positions en masse despite Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s appeals for them to await reinforcement from Shia militias.
Ramadi has been the hotspot of clashes between the militants who seek to establish an Islamic caliphate in territories under its control and the Iraqi forces.