Iraqi forces 'recapture' some Ramadi areas lost to ISIL

Troops regain control of children's hospital and surrounding neighbourhood after fierce battles, security officials say.

    Iraqi forces 'recapture' some Ramadi areas lost to ISIL
    More than 114,000 people have fled fighting over the past two weeks, the UN said on Tuesday [AFP]

    Iraq security forces have recaptured some areas lost earlier to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in and around the battleground city of Ramadi, security officials have said. 

    Police Major Omar al-Alawni said that government forces regained control of the city's Pediatric and Maternity Hospital and the surrounding neighbourhood late on Monday night after fierce clashes with ISIL fighters. 

    The hospital is located about 500 metres from a complex of government offices. 

    Police Colonel Mahdi Abbas said Iraqi troops were engaged in intense clashes on Tuesday in an offensive to regain control of Soufiya, one of three villages that fell into the hands of ISIL last week. 

    Both officials said the battles turned in favour of government forces after the arrival of reinforcements and weapons from Baghdad. At least 12 fighters were killed in the clashes overnight, they said. 

    Footage obtained by the AP news agency showed black military Humvees advancing in a residential area in Ramadi and Iraqi soldiers firing their rifles while taking shelter behind a wall. 

    Thousands flee

    The security situation in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, sharply deteriorated after ISIL seized Soufiya and two other villages, Sjariyah and Albu-Ghanim, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes. 

    More than 114,000 people have fled fighting over the past two weeks, the UN said on Tuesday, expressing concern over the mounting problems faced by the displaced. 

    The UN refugee agency said of the total number, about 8,000 remained in the the province. 

    "Some 54,000 have gone to Baghdad, 15,000 to Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and 2,100 people have fled to Babylon," Adrian Edwards, the agency's spokesman, said. 

    Edwards said the others were on the move and about 900 had reached Diyala, an ethnically and religiously mixed province northeast of Baghdad. 

    At least 2.7 million people have been displaced in Iraq since the beginning of 2014, including almost 400,000 from Anbar, according to the UN refugee agency. 

    The UNHCR said it was "concerned about the difficulties facing thousands of Iraqi civilians" fleeing fighting between pro-government forces and ISIL. 

    These included "dwindling resources, checkpoints, entry restrictions and security procedures to navigate on their journeys to safety," Edwards said. 

    "People waiting on the Anbar side have no shelter and face worsening conditions. The newly displaced are exhausted and anxious to move on to more secure locations," he said, adding that some had "walked miles without food or water".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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