Residents began fleeing three villages in Ramadi, capital of the Iraqi western province of Anbar, after they were captured by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants on Wednesday.
Earlier, an advisor for Anbar’s mayor, described “fierce battles” taking place between Iraqi security forces and tribal volunteers against ISIS, calling for an “urgent” need airstrikes from the U.S.-led coaltion and more military enforcement.
Aziz Khalaf al-Tarmouz told the local Al-Sumaria News that “security forces from army, police and emergency alongside with tribal members are in a fierce battle against the terrorist ISIS group in Albu-Ghanim, Albu Sodeh, Albo Mahal regions in eastern Ramadi.”
He added: “Our security and tribal forces need more military consolidation and urgency,” asking “for airstrikes from the international coaltion and Iraqi forces to support security teams there.”
The residents told the Associated Press that ISIS launched an offensive at dawn east of the city, seizing the villages Sjariyah, Albu-Ghanim and Soufiya, which had been under government control.
They say fighting is now taking place on the eastern edges of Ramadi about two kilometers away from local government buildings.
In Soufiya, the militants bombed a police station and took over a power plant. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for their own safety, said airstrikes are trying to support Iraqi troops.
ISIS was dealt a major blow this month, when Iraqi troops pushed it out of Tikrit, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s hometown.
(With The Associated Press)