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Iraq forces sweep Ramadi after landmark victory over Islamic State

RAMADI, IRAQ: Iraqi forces swept the devastated streets of Ramadi for bombs Monday, after recapturing the city they lost in May and clinching a major victory against the Islamic State group.

Pockets of jihadists may remain in parts of the city but the army said it had faced no resistance since IS fighters abandoned the flashpoint government complex on Sunday.

Iraqis celebrated in the streets of several cities late Sunday and officials congratulated the federal forces on their biggest victory since IS overran large parts of the country last year.

“The security forces now control all the streets. There is no resistance from Daesh (IS),” said Ibrahim al-Fahdawi, a security official from Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital.

The former government headquarters in Ramadi was the epicentre of the fighting but Iraqi forces did not rush in when IS pulled out because the entire area was rigged.

Explosives and ordinance disposal teams face the mammoth task of clearing a city where IS laid thousands of bombs.

“Daesh has planted more than 300 explosive devices on the roads and in the buildings of the government complex,” said Brigadier General Majid al-Fatlawi of the army’s 8th division.

“They used everything from oxygen bottles to jerrycans, that contain C-4 (plastic explosive) and chlorine,” he said.

Several local officials said IS used civilians as human shields to escape the battle when it became clear their last stand in Ramadi was doomed.

IS had an estimated force of around 400 fighters to defend central Ramadi a week ago. It is not clear how many were killed and how many were able to pull back to positions outside the city.

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