“Ramadi has fallen,” reported Muhannad Haimour, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Anbar.
ISIL overran the Iraqi army to take Ramadi, killing about 500 soldiers and civilians, sending thousands of people fleeing and capturing U.S.-issued arms left behind. The takeover followed a three-day siege that began with a wave of car bombs.
It’s not clear how many people remain in Ramadi, once a city of 850,000. But it’s believed that some 8,000 people fled the city in the past week.
ISIL militants stormed the homes of policemen and pro-government Al Bu Alwan tribesmen, detaining about 30. The militants went door-to-door with lists of so-called collaborators as homes and stores owned by pro-government Sunni Sahawa militia were looted or torched.
In a statement, the group said it had killed “dozens of apostates.” Meanwhile, the United Nations continues to express concerns over the threats posed by ISIL to the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria’s western province of Homs.
Anyway, Ramadi’s fall comes on the heels of a U.S. operation that killed ISIL commander Abu Sayyaf in eastern Syria, while his wife was caught and is being held in Iraq. Happily, all the U.S. Special Force troops involved returned home safely.
In March, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted the U.S. was on its way to success in its effort to destroy ISIL.
“We’re growing in the capacity on the ground,” Kerry said. He also acknowledged that while progress in Iraq is being made, Syria is proving more challenging.
“Each time the Iraqis have now gone forward in an offensive effort, together with allies, the coalition, we have routed ISIL,” Kerry added. “In Iraq, they have gained back a significant percentage of the area that ISIL is controlling.”
His statements came weeks after the White House sent a war authorization to Congress that includes a three-year Authorization for the Use of Military Force. It’s been criticized by those who say President Obama’s request doesn’t go far enough to destroy ISIL, since it limits the use of forces on the ground.
Iranian-backed Shi’ite forces are mobilizing outside of the city, waiting to launch a counterattack. The counterattack, if successful, could be a step towards an Iranian takeover of Iraq.
Such a takeover will create a larger Iranian Shi’ite Caliphate instead of ISIL’s ‘little old J-V team’ Caliphate.