Iraqi military advance reconnects Ramadi to key army base

Iraqi forces recaptured territory from Islamic State militants on Tuesday which links the recently recaptured city of Ramadi to a major army base in western Iraq, the military said.

Reuters| Last Updated: Feb 09, 2016, 15:49 PM IST

Baghdad: Iraqi forces recaptured territory from Islamic State militants on Tuesday which links the recently recaptured city of Ramadi to a major army base in western Iraq, the military said.

A statement broadcast on state television said the army, police and counter-terrorism forces had retaken several areas including the town of Husaiba al-Sharqiya, about 10 km (6 miles) east of Ramadi.

"(Our forces) also managed to open the road from Ramadi to Baghdad which passes through al-Khaldiya," the statement added, referring to a highway that links the city to the Habbaniya base where U.S.-led coalition forces are located.

Iraq`s army declared victory in December over Islamic State in Ramadi, the provincial capital west of Baghdad. It was the first major gain for the U.S.-trained force since it collapsed in the face of an assault by the militants in 2014.

Government forces are still dismantling bombs planted in Ramadi, and much of the city`s infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.

Tuesday`s advance boosts government efforts to close in on Falluja, the Islamic State stronghold located between Ramadi and Baghdad which is besieged by the army and Iranian-backed Shi`ite militias.

The ultra-hardline Sunni militants of Islamic State swept through a third of Iraq in 2014, declaring a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, carrying out mass killings and imposing a draconian form of Islam.