Islamic State militants pull out of their last stronghold, bringing Iraqi federal forces within sight of a significant victory.
A former government complex in the Iraqi city of Ramadi has been “totally encircled” by federal forces battling Islamic State militants, according to a spokesman.
IS fighters are said to be pulling out of the city, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, after defending it for several days.
Government forces launched a major push to break the militant group’s hold on the city, but were initially slowed by snipers, suicide attackers and roadside bombs.
Yahya Rasool, joint-operations command spokesman, said: “We’re clearing the buildings and streets around the complex of bombs in preparation to go in.
“I expect we will go into the complex in about an hour,” he added.
Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) and the army advanced through the city and reached a key intersection in the Hoz neighbourhood, the area which houses the complex, the recapture of which would provide a boost to the hopes of fully recapturing Ramadi.
“All Daesh (IS) fighters have left. There is no resistance. The operation is almost wrapped up,” said Iraq’s counter-terrorism services (CTS) spokesman Sabah al-Numan.
“CTS has cleared Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi completely and arrived near the government complex,” he added.
Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition air strikes advanced into the centre of Ramadi after months of preparation, in a final push to retake the city they lost in May.
The fighting over the past two days had been concentrated around the government complex.
According to medical sources in Baghdad, 93 members of the security forces were brought in with injuries on Sunday alone.
“The dead bodies are taken directly to the main military hospital near the airport,” said one hospital source.
Ali Dawood, the head of the neighbouring Khaldiya council, said IS fighters used civilians as human shields to slip out of the complex.
“Daesh fighters forced all the families living around the compound to go with them in order to flee towards Sichariyah, Sufiya and Jweiba,” on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi, he said.
News From news.sky.com.