“Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it.” (II Samuel 12:28)
On Sunday, in the first major victory against ISIS on the ground, the US-trained Iraqi army recaptured the city of Ramadi from the ISIS occupiers who took over the provincial capital last spring.
ISIS had seized control over Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar Province, in May, after Iraqi government troops fled from what had been one of their last strongholds in the region in an embarrassing defeat.
The triumph came after several weeks of attempts to take the city, culminating in a final push on Sunday in which Iraqi troops seized Ramadi’s central administration complex, which ISIS had held until now.
According to government reports, most civilians were able to evacuate from the city before the army launched its campaign to retake it.
Iraqi troops spent the last few days picking their way through the booby-trapped buildings and streets of Ramadi as they pushed towards the compound. They moved in to take the government building after sniper fire ceased and aerial surveillance detected no human activity in the area.
However, according to a spokesman for the provincial government, pockets of resistance remain in parts of the city, though they are weak. Iraqi forces are confident that they will soon be able to declare “full liberation” in the city.
The Iraqi government said that after Ramadi is secured, they will focus on retaking the northern city of Mosul, which is the largest population center controlled by ISIS within its territory. Liberating Mosul from ISIS would be a huge victory and would effectively destroy the state structure that the militant Islamist state has established in Iraq.