Iraqi troops have been forced out of most of Ramadi by Islamic State forces, consolidating the militant group’s control over the capital of Anbar province, which covers more than one-third of the country.

Isis militants raised their flags over the government compound in the centre of the city on Friday little more than 12 hours after using car bombs to breach blast walls and open a path for fighters who stormed a police headquarters and military base. A British Isis fighter reportedly died in a suicide attack during the assault.

Civilians were fleeing the fighting along the perilous highway towards Baghdad, much of which is also controlled by Isis. Iraqi officials in Ramadi said they had pleaded for help ahead of the attack and now feared that the rest of the city would soon fall: a result that would give the terror organisation its biggest victory in Iraq this year.

It would also mark a significant defeat for Iraqi forces, who had allied with several powerful Sunni tribes in a bid to defend Ramadi and stop Isis from taking control of the highways west to Syria and Jordan, as well as the water supply to southern Iraq which is regulated by a dam on the Euphrates river that runs through the city.

The attack was launched hours after the release of an audio recording by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which the Isis leader exhorted followers to “fight the enemy wherever they are”. Baghdadi specifically mentioned Ramadi, in the first public message he has delivered since November… see more

source: Guardian Uk