|Screenshot - The black flag of ISIS in Ramadi.|
On to Baghdad!
(The Long War Journal) - The Islamic State continued its eastward push from Ramadi in an effort to break Iraqi military forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias who are gathering at Habbaniyah for a counteroffensive. Iraqi forces established a defensive line outside of Habbaniyah after they were routed in Ramadi.
And today, according to Iraqi police and tribal officials, that defensive line has been breached.
Islamic State militants overran Iraqi government defences east of the city of Ramadi on Thursday, police and pro-government tribal fighters said.
The defensive line was breached at Husaiba [Husaybah], about 10 km (six miles) from the city, on Thursday afternoon after IS fighters intensified mortar and rocket fire.
“The situation is very critical now after Daesh (IS) [Islamic State] fighters managed to overrun our defensive line in Husaiba,” Police major Khalid al-Fahdawi said.
“We have retreated to the eastern part of the area and we’re waiting for more reinforcements and air force strikes to stop the Daesh advance.”It is unclear if the Islamic State is consolidating its gains or is continuing to push to Habbaniyah and Taqaddum Air Base.
Iraqi security forces established the defensive lines east of Ramadi near Habbaniyah with the help of the US, according to Brett McGurk, the “Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL [the Islamic State].” McGurk tweeted the following on May 19:
#Ramadi situation is extremely serious; over last 48 hours, we have helped Iraqis consolidate forces, secure, and hold eastward lines. 1/6— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) May 20, 2015
Coalition forces over last 24 hrs conducted multiple airstrikes against #ISIL targets in #Anbar. Strikes will be ongoing & continuous. 2/6
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) May 20, 2015
But the airstrikes in Anbar appear to be ineffective and sparse. According to US Central Command, the coalition launched zero airstrikes near Ramadi or Habbaniyah between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, and only one strike in Anbar, near Fallujah, during that time period. US air power was unable to stop the Islamic State from taking Ramadi.
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