On to Baghdad?
Ain't life just fucking grand?
(Washington Post) - Islamic State fighters took control of key sites Friday in the heart of Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s largest province, in what appeared to mark a significant blow to a U.S.-backed military campaign to retake territory from the militants.
The Islamic State offensive — which began with ambush-style attacks after sundown Thursday — touched off panicked attempts to flee the city and avoid the militant’s tightening noose on routes to safety.
“It was just like scenes of carnage in a World War II movie with bombing all around and dead people in the streets,” said Ali Dulaimi, a 28-year-old student at Anbar University.
He fled central Ramadi for calmer neighborhoods with his three brothers and parents, but has been unable to find way out of the city.
“There were dead people lying all over the street as we ran away,” he said.
A senior police official, Maj. Omar Khamis al-Dahl, said the death toll includes more than 60 police.
Ramadi’s fate also points to wider questions about the ability of Iraqi ground forces to overcome the well-armed extremists on other fronts around the country.
It also could restore a major foothold for the Islamic State less than 70 miles west of Baghdad in the crucial Anbar Province, which has been the scene of bloodshed and seesaw battles since the U.S.-led invasion more than 12 years ago.
Fighting gripped Ramadi throughout the day, but it appeared the Islamic State militiamen had the upper hand.
The militants seized the government compound in downtown Ramadi and hoisted the group’s black flag. Battles then moved to pockets of the city still held by Iraq forces, including a military base that serves as an operations hub for Anbar.
There was no immediate sign of major U.S.-led airstrikes, which have been waged against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since last year.Read More . . . .