Islamic State Militants Flee Ramadi Stronghold Amid Iraqi Offensive
A victory against the extremists would be the third in as many months in the countryBy Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan, WSJ
Updated Dec. 27, 2015 7:23 p.m. ET
BAGHDAD—Islamic State fighters fled their last bastion in the center of the city of Ramadi on Sunday, putting Iraqi forces and their allies within reach of their third major victory in as many months against the extremist group.
Though the Iraqi forces have built up momentum against the militants, Islamic State still controls major cities and vast territory in both Iraq and Syria and has carried out or inspired recent terror attacks from Paris to California.
State television beamed images of young men cheering, dancing and singing in streets across Iraq while greeting passing soldiers, even though the army hadn’t yet declared Ramadi completely under its control.
Security forces have encircled a former government compound that was the last area of the city held by Islamic State and prepared a final push to clear out any remaining fighters and explosives, Iraqi officials said. A number of Iraqi leaders said they were confident the city would fall imminently, once the army cleared hundreds of land mines and other explosives.
“Our forces reached the government compound and surrounded it,” said Capt. Rami Emad, a military spokesman. “We don’t think the forces will enter the compound tonight since it has become dark and they are clearing the surrounding roads and buildings of improvised explosive devices.”