ISIS overran the beleaguered Iraqi army to take control of the key city of Ramadi Sunday, killing an estimated 500 soldiers and civilians, sending thousands of residents fleeing for their lives and grabbing up U.S.-issued arms left behind as the embattled nation’s fighters fled, witnesses reported.
The takeover followed a three-day siege that began with a wave of ISIS car bombs and which dealt a devastating blow to the Baghdad government and the U.S. forces providing logistical support. On Monday, Shia militias converged on the city, some 70 miles west of the capital, a bid retake it.
The retreat by Iraqi forces was reminiscent of the nation’s earliest battles against ISIS, including the fall of Mosul, when poorly trained Iraqi soldiers shrank from the black-clad Islamist army, leaving guns and other gear behind for the terrorists to capture. In Ramaid Sunday, bodies littered the streets as local officials reported the militants carried out mass killings of Iraqi security forces and civilians. Online video showed Humvees, trucks and other equipment speeding out of Ramadi, with soldiers gripping onto their sides.
“Ramadi has fallen,” Muhannad Haimour, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Anbar, told AP Sunday. “The city was completely taken. … The military is fleeing.”
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