Iraqi troops close in on Ramadi, look to Mosul as airstrikes intensify

Iraqi troops say they are close to liberating the city of Ramadi from the control of Islamic State militants.

Ramadi, located about 110 kilometres from Baghdad, has been in the hands of extremists for more than seven months until a surge by Iraq’s coalition-trained army and airstrikes by coalition forces isolated the militants from weapons and supplies.

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“The enemy began to fall apart. The city is being surrounding by 360 degrees,” said Iraqi army commander Hamid Atiya al-Maliki. “We are only about one kilometre from the government compound.”

The Iraqi forces have already liberated the city’s southern neighbourhoods and claim the terror group is quickly losing control of the city.

“A few days only, and we'll liberate the whole city,” says one Iraq soldier.

Now, the Iraqi military has set its sights on regaining the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.

On Friday, the Department of National Defence confirmed that, over the last 48 hours, intensified airstrikes by Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets have helped destroy ISIS fighting positions near three key cities, including Mosul, which was captured by the terror group a year ago.

“We’re seeing a dry run against Mosul, which is a much larger city and much more investing (than Ramadi) in the mythology of the Islamic State, since that was the very first city that it took,” said George Petrolekas, a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Meanwhile, the United States launched 19 airstrikes, wiping out ISIS fighting positions, weapons factories and command centres in eight Iraqi cities.

While Canada’s military contributions in the war-torn country may have ramped up over the last two days, the country’s fighter jets are set to return home in the new year.

The federal government has yet to define what Canada’s new role in the conflict will be.

With a report from CTV’s Richard Madan


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