Iraq’s army declared victory over Islamic State group fighters in a provincial capital west of Baghdad on Sunday, the first major triumph for the U.S.-trained force since it collapsed in the face of an assault by the militants 18 months ago.

 

The capture of Ramadi, capital of mainly Sunni-Muslim Anbar province in the Euphrates River valley west of the capital, deprives Islamic State militants of their biggest prize of 2015. The fighters seized it in May after government troops fled in a defeat which prompted Washington to take a hard look at strategy in its ongoing air war against the militants.

 

After encircling the city for weeks, the Iraqi military launched a campaign to retake it last week, and made a final push to seize the central administration complex on Sunday.

 

“By controlling the complex this means that we have defeated them in Ramadi,” said Sabah al-Numani, a spokesman for the force leading the fight on the government side.

 

“The next step is to clear pockets that could exist here or there in the city.”

 

 

 

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