The Battle of Ramadi in 2014 and 2015 is part of an ISIL offensive to capture all of the Anbar Province. Ramadi is one of the Iraqi Government's last strongholds in Anbar, after its success in a previous campaign. Although ISIL managed to capture much of the city; parts of it remain under the control of the Iraqi Government and its allies.
Ramadi is the capital of the Anbar Province, and it is one the biggest cities in Iraq. It was partially conquered by ISIL and its allies when fighting erupted in the Anbar Province. Following a counter-attack by government forces, the Iraqi Government recaptured most of the city by February 2014, and all of it by March 2014. The claim was repeated again in May, in which the Anbar Police Chief said that "most" of the city was under their control.
However, ISIL returned, and reportedly had a presence in Ramadi by October 2014. On October 16, "Wilayat Anbar", ISIL's name for its faction in the Anbar Province, published a series of photos showing its presence in Ramadi. It was stated that ISIL was in control of 60% of Ramadi, and that much of its southern districts and areas west and north of the city are contested or held by ISIL.
ISIL attack and Government counter-attack
The attack on Ramadi began after ISIL attacked the city from the east and from the west. They captured the village of Al Shujairiya, and fired at government buildings in the central part of the city. ISIL militants also pounded the city center with mortars, and used car bombs to try to weaken government forces in the area. Security forces and tribal fighters launched a counterattack, and stopped ISIL from advancing from ISIL-held parts of the city. 20 soldiers died as a result, and Government fighters called for reinforcements, and clashes continued in the city.
The next day, government fighters launched an operation to retake lost ground. The operation focused on recapturing the Sijariya neighborhood seized on Friday. One government official said that heavy fighting was continuing in the city, with both sides firing Mortars at each other.
Also, during a government counter-offensive, they discovered 25 dead men on the eastern edge of Ramadi from the Albu Fahd tribe, killed by ISIL. A tribal leader, Sheikh Rafie al-Fahdawi, said that there were possibly more than 25. The Ramadi-Habbaniya road was under ISIL control, but government forces helped aided tribal fighters who were battling with tanks to secure the area.
Heavy fighting continued on November 23. Fierce battles took place between Government forces and ISIL near the main government complex, which hosts the regional government and security headquarters. The battles were taking place about 1,000 feet away from the government complex. About 37 people were reported dead in the fighting, according to local authorities.
On November 24, ISIL was reportedly 150 km away from the city center, and government forces were reinforced with weapons from 5 planes that arrived in government-held areas of Ramadi. The heaviest fighting so far was occurring in downtown Ramadi, were the government complex is still held by Iraqi forces. ISIL seized the houses of Dulaimi tribe leaders, and used them as attack bases. One government official said ISIL had a presence "in the centre of Ramadi from the eastern side and have taken control of the al-Mu'allimin district and the Haouz area in the centre." Despite reported setbacks, Iraqi forces said the momentum was shifting in the favor of government forces. Iraqi forces, with the help the coalition airstrikes, managed to push back ISIL fighters in the city and take back a key military supply line. However, clashes continued in the eastern suburbs.
On November 25, ISIL published a series of photos through Twitter that showed the fighting in Ramadi. Some showed that ISIL captured M113 armored personnel carriers, and used them to attack Iraqi forces and tribal fighters.
On November 26, Iraqi forces said they repelled an ISIL offensive on the government complex, and also that the militants suffered heavy losses. Iraqi forces, supported by tribal fighters and airstrikes, repelled other attacks as well. Setbacks were also reported for government forces, because during the night before, ISIL seized the Education Directorate and were less than 20 meters away from the complex. The Anbar Provincial Council issued a statement saying that the city could fall to ISIL within the next 24 hours. Col. Hamid Shandukh said that government forces were defending the compound, and the Governor of the Anbar Province said that "If we lose Anbar, that means we will lose Iraq. I will very soon be with the tribes and the security forces in Anbar to fight".
Continued ISIL assaults on Ramadi
Heavy fighting continued on November 29, mainly in the al-Hoz, Muallimin, and Bakr districts. A police major said that clashes had been going on for hours, and tribal leaders said they retook entrances that led to the al-Hoz district. They also said that if military airstrikes continued, then they may able to take complete control of Ramadi.
On December 2, Iraqi Security forces continued to repel attacks by ISIL forces on Ramadi. The attacks began when ISIL fighters tried to storm the city from three fronts, but tribal fighters in the northwestern Abu Risha fought back and repelled the assault. The clashes killed 10 ISIL militants and 2 Iraqi soldiers. Iraqi forces had prevented ISIL from reaching the government complex, as a result of airstrikes and increased security. However, Iraqi officials said that coalition airstrikes around the city had stopped. Despite that, the US said they hit an ISIL column near Ramadi, destroying a vehicle and a tactical unit.
On December 6, Iraqi forces foiled multiple ISIL attempts to capture the government complex.
On December 8, the Iraqi Army claimed they made major advances in the Anbar Province, and claimed that they killed 300 ISIL fighters in Ramadi. Advances were reportedly made in the Huz and Sajariyah districts. This was confirmed by the police chief of the Anbar Province, saying that colilition airstrikes destroyed many vehicles captured by ISIL.
On December 9, the Albu Nimr tribe said it could only fight ISIL for 5 more days, because they were running low on ammunition and weapons. A tribal leader said that the Iraqi government should be supplying the tribesmen, and not the US. Sporadic fighting continued, and an Iraqi lawmaker warned that ISIL was assembling a large amount a fighters for an all-out attack on Ramadi, after a major assault on the government complex the day before. He said that clashes were still continuing, despite the fact the attack was repelled.
On December 10, the humanitarian situation in the Anbar Province was described as "critical." ISIL launched another unsuccessful assault on the government complex, and 15 ISIL fighters were killed. This lead to fears that Ramadi would fall to ISIL soon, due to the lack of ammunition and support. An Australian national fighting for ISIL was reportedly killed as a result of the fighting in Ramadi's southern districts.
On December 11, Fierce clashes took place around Ramadi. In rural areas, a booby-trapped vehicle was detonated, close to the 6th Brigade Base. Many security forces were killed by the blast, and an ISIL assault followed. Brigadier Ihsan Ahmed was killed in a battle with ISIL forces, and the group were on two sides of the base. Elsewhere in Ramadi, ISIL tried to advance into the Hawz district, but security forces engaged them in an attempt to halt their advance. They partially repelled the attack, but ISIL captured some parts of the district. The following day, an attempt to recapture the town of Hit, a major town near Ramadi, failed. ISIL responded with a major counterattack in which ISIL made gains in areas west of Ramadi.
On December 12, a patrol of RAF Tornado GR4's provided aerial support to Iraqi soldiers engaged in a firefight with ISIL militants near Ramadi, destroying several ISIL firing positions and three ISIL vehicles, including two armoured personnel carriers.
The same day, ISIL captured 15 villages in the Anbar Province, according to Sheikh Naeem al-Ku’oud, one of Anbar’s tribal leaders who said ISIL recaptured these villages, after they were previously liberated by the Western province’s tribesmen. 35 members of Albu Nimr tribe were captured by ISIL after battles against the radical militant group in al-Mahboubiya near Hit. On December 13, ISIL fighters stormed the town, killing at least 19 policemen and trapping others inside their headquarters. ISIL then proceeded to capture the town of al-Wafa, after starting its assault early on Friday. Iraqi forces tried to defend it, but the lack of ammunition forced them to retreat and give up control of the town. Police forces, backed by few members of government-paid Sunni tribal fighters, tried to prevent the militants from crossing the sand barrier surrounding the town, but were overwhelmed when sleeper cells from inside opened fire on them, according to officials. With the town's fall, ISIL controlled three major towns to the west of Ramadi, including Hit and Kubaisa. Police forces and the pro-government Sunni fighters were forced to retreat to a nearby police-brigade headquarters bordering their town. The remaining fighters holed in there said that they were surrounded by ISIL. Elsewhere in the province, ISIL militants executed at least 21 Sunni tribal fighters on Friday after capturing them near al-Baghdadi town on Wednesday, local officials and tribesmen said on Saturday.
On December 16, ISIL launched another attack on the Ramadi city center. Security forces armed with mortars and assault rifles repelled the attack with the help of Sunni Tribes. Government forces also used adapted Humvees against ISIS in the attack. US servicemen training Iraqi forces against ISIL were reportedly involved in a clash with ISIL forces near Ramadi on December 17, 2014. ISIL forces reportedly came near the base in an attempt to capture it, but this caused US servicemen to open fire. With the support of an FA-18, ISIL was forced to withdrawal. Progress was reportedly being made in the Al-Dolab area, also near Ramadi. A hospital in Ramadi said that it received the bodies of many small children after they were killed by ISIL, while trying to escape from Al-Wafa. ISIL gunmen besieged a group of the Albu Nimr tribe near Lake Tharthar, and they were relying on plants growing near the lake to survive.
On January 9, 2015, in support of ground units, two CF-188 Hornets successfully struck an ISIL transport truck carrying an armored personnel carrier near Ramadi
On January 21, Iraqi forces foiled and ISIS attack on the Ramadi. Government forces, helped by tribesmen and coalition air support, repelled the attack on the city center. ISIS reportedly lost 48 forces and 17 were arrested, and dozens of vehicles were also seized from ISIS as well. On January 26, Iraqi forces launched a major operation to retake areas of Ramadi not under government control. According to Faleh Al-Issawi, deputy chief of the Anbar Council, said that the operation would focus on clearing the east-central areas. Iraqi government forces also announced a temporary curfew in the city to try to "cleanse" the city from ISIS fighters.
On November 23, the Pentagon said that it would plan to arm Iraqi tribesmen fighting ISIL. Such equipment include AK-47 assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and mortar rounds. The plan costs a total of $24 million, and is part of a broader plan to arm Kurdish fighters as well. The same day, the Iraqi Prime Minister ordered more air support and weapons to tribal fighters combating ISIL.
- Military intervention against ISIL
- Fall of Mosul
- Siege of Amirli
- Sinjar massacre
- Siege of Kobanî
- Fall of Hīt (2014)
- ISIL takeover of Derna
- Sinjar offensive
- Liberation of Mosul
- List of wars and battles involving the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
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