Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group have withdrawn from the main government building in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, a day after the group raised its black flag over the building in the capital of Anbar province.
The city’s mayor and tribal leader said air strikes by the US-led coalition on Saturday forced the armed group to retreat, leaving the buildings booby trapped or on fire, the officials said. Their reports could not be confirmed.
The withdrawal of the fighters comes a day after they seized the heavily fortified complex, the loss of which provincial officials blamed on a lack of support from the Iraqi government.
“For months we were complaining and telling the Security Ministries that there was no coordination,” Hikmat Suleiman, the spokesman for Anbar’s governor, told Al Jazeera, adding that the military ignored requests for much needed weapons.
A coalition of pro-government Sunni tribesmen and Iraqi security forces are trying to wrestle control of the city, backed by US-led coalition airpower.
The government compound contains Anbar’s governor’s office, police headquarters and intelligence headquarters.
ISIL itself issued a statement in which it said its fighters “broke into the Safavid government complex in the centre of Ramadi”.
The operation “resulted in the control of it after killing the ‘murtadeen’ then blowing up the adjacent buildings of Anbar’s governorate and the Safavid Anbar police HQ.”
ISIL has threatened to take control of Ramadi for months and the breakthrough came after a wide offensive on several fronts in the province, including an assault using several suicide car bombs in Ramadi on Thursday.