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US, UK hail recapture of Ramadi by 'brave Iraqi forces'

While the complex was entirely under the control of Iraqi forces much of the city’s downtown remains in the hands of IS fighters, Iraqi officials said
Iraqi soldiers pictured near Ramadi

The United States on Monday welcomed the Iraqi forces' victory over the Islamic State (IS) group in the city of Ramadi.

"We commend the government of Iraq and the brave Iraqi forces that are displaying tremendous perseverance and courage in this fight," US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

"The United States and the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL have proudly supported this effort with training, advice, and equipment, as well as precision air strikes," Kerry said, using another acronym for IS.

"That support will continue as the mission in Ramadi is completed and we prepare for post-conflict stabilisation."

General Lloyd Austin, head of US Central Command which is overseeing the US role in the campaign, said the fall of Ramadi "clearly demonstrates that the enemy is losing momentum as they steadily cede territory".  

"Looking ahead, I expect our partners on the ground in both Iraq and Syria, with coalition assistance, to continue to roll back ISIL gains as we work together to defeat this enemy," he added.

Britain, meanwhile, also lauded the the victory. 

"This is the latest in a series of significant losses for Daesh. These barbaric terrorists have lost 30 percent of the territory they once held in Iraq," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"They have been driven out of cities across the country by Iraqi forces, with support from the UK and the global coalition."

British jets have been striking IS targets in Iraq and Syria.

"The Royal Air Force's close air support operations around Ramadi in recent days have played a key role in the battle," Hammond said.

"We will continue to support the government of Iraq as it re-establishes the security, governance and services the people of Ramadi will need as they return to their city.

"This remains a long fight, but the coalition's strategy is succeeding. We will continue to stand with the Iraqi people until Daesh is defeated."

The battle for Ramadi, about 80 miles west of Baghdad, is a significant test for Iraqi forces, which collapsed during an assault by IS fighters in May. Although it holds limited strategic value, the government compound is in the heart of the city’s downtown and houses its administrative buildings.

Engineering teams are still working to clear explosive devices in the area, but the complex is entirely under the control of Iraqi forces, military commanders said. 
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the victory was a step towards the next campaign to liberate the northern city of Mosul in 2016.
A US-led military coalition is supporting Iraq's campaign to drive the IS group from the country.
Concerns have been expressed that the Shia rebel units that supported the government offensive may mistreat the mainly Sunni civilians living in liberated Anbar cities.

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