IS counterattacks target Iraqi troops in Ramadi
Jan. 02, 2016
BAGHDAD (AP) — Islamic State group militants continue to launch a series of counterattacks against Iraqi government forces on the edges of the western city of Ramadi days after the militant group was driven out of the city center, according to the U.S.-led coalition.
"The majority of these are outside downtown Ramadi to the north and east," and so far Iraqi government forces have successfully repelled every attack, said Baghdad-based coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren.
"We haven't seen ISIL mass enough combat power to move Iraq off their positions," Warren added, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
Iraq's military says Islamic State militants on Friday launched multiple suicide attacks on the outskirts of Ramadi.
Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Belawi told The Associated Press on Saturday that the militants stuck security forces with seven suicide car bombs in two areas outside Ramadi.
Al-Belawi says there were casualties among the government troops, but did not provide a specific figure. He says the troops repelled the attacks and did not lose territory.
Iraqi officials say gains in Ramadi lay the groundwork for an eventual assault on Mosul, Iraq's second largest city that fell to IS in June of 2014.
On Friday coalition planes launched five airstrikes near Ramadi targeting IS tactical units, heavy weaponry and fighting positions. Near Mosul, three airstrikes destroyed an IS fighting position and a facility used to make car bombs, a coalition statement said Saturday.
Ramadi, the provincial capital of the sprawling Anbar province, fell to IS in May, marking a major setback for U.S.-backed Iraqi forces. Iraqi troops retook the city center on Monday with heavy coalition air support, but insurgents are still holed up in parts of the city.
Associated Press writer Susannah George contributed to this report.