Iraqi forces and Sunni fighters trained by the U.S. are playing a key role in the efforts to retake Ramadi, the Pentagon said Thursday.
About 3,000 troops who were trained by the coalition have had success in the early stages of capturing the city, which has been under Islamic State control since May, Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters during a briefing at the Baghdad embassy.
“This is significant that these coalition-trained forces have recently joined the fight, and we’ve seen some success,” Col. Warren said. “In fact, one of the coalition-trained units was able to maneuver a full six kilometers just in the last 24 hours.”
In addition, about 500 Sunni tribal fighters who went through a weeklong coalition training program are also participating in the fight.
The Sunni fighters will help in the isolation operations going on now, as well as the clearing of the city, and will serve as a holding force to keep the Islamic State out of the city once it has been liberated, officials said.
After weeks of shaping operations, Iraqi forces have begun isolation operations in Ramadi, encircling the city to cut off supplies to terrorist fighters in the city and prevent them from escaping.
Col. Warren said Iraqi forces are deliberately moving slowly to prevent as much damage as possible to the infrastructure of the city so the civilian population can return once the Islamic State is driven out.
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