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Isis seizes Ramadi: Massacres reported as Iraq 'sends Iran-backed Shia militias' into Anbar

Published 18/05/2015

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on May 18, 2015 by Aamaq News Agency, a Youtube channel which posts videos from areas under the Islamic State (IS) group's control, allegedly shows IS fighters in a street of Ramadi
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on May 18, 2015 by Aamaq News Agency, a Youtube channel which posts videos from areas under the Islamic State (IS) group's control, allegedly shows IS fighters in a street of Ramadi

Iran-backed militias are reportedly being sent to Ramadi by the Iraqi government to fight Isis militants who completed their capture of the city on Sunday.

Government soldiers and civilians were reportedly massacred by extremists as they took control and the army fled. Charred bodies were left littering the city streets as troops clung on to trucks speeding away from the city.

Ramadi is the latest government stronghold to fall to the so-called Islamic State, despite air strikes by a US-led international coalition aiming to stop its advance in Iraq and Syria.

A spokesperson for the governor of Anbar province said that around 500 people, both civilians and Iraqi soldiers, are believed to have been killed in days of battles.

A British Isis fighter who called himself Abu Musa al-Britani was among suicide bombers who led the assault on Friday by using explosive-laden cars to blast their way into a government compound.

Government forces are reported to have fled Ramadi, which lies just 60 miles from Baghdad, despite orders from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to hold their positions.

Shia militias known as the Popular Mobilisation (Hashid Shaabi) could be sent in after helping Iraq to recapture Saddam Hussein’s home city of Tikrit from Isis two months ago.

Using them is a risky move by the government, angering civilians and risking sectarian bloodshed in the Sunni-dominated area. The group has also been accused of spreading violence and looting in other areas.

But a Sunni tribal leader, Naeem al-Gauoud, told The Associated Press that they would be welcomed after many tribal fighters died trying to defend Ramadi, with their bodies left in the streets or thrown in the Euphrates River.

“We welcome any group, including Shiite militias, to come and help us in liberating the city from the militants,” he added.

Iraqi fighters of the Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) stand guard outside their headquarters on May 18, 2015 in the Iraqi mainly Shiite southern city of Basra, as Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz.
Iraqi fighters of the Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) stand guard outside their headquarters on May 18, 2015 in the Iraqi mainly Shiite southern city of Basra, as Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. "When it comes to readiness, we have more than 3,000 fighters waiting for a signal from the secretary general (of Asaib) Sheikh Qais al-Khazali," spokesman Jawad al-Talabawi said. AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi (L) and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehghan (R) attend a meeting at the defence ministry in Baghdad on May 18, 2015. Dehghan arrived in the Iraqi capital for talks with his counterpart, a day after the Iraqi government suffered one of its worst losses with the fall of Ramadi, some 120 kilometres west of Baghdad, to Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. AFP PHOTO / STR-/AFP/Getty Images
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on May 18, 2015 by Aamaq News Agency, a Youtube channel which posts videos from areas under the Islamic State (IS) group's control, allegedly shows an IS fighter hanging a flag of the group in a street of Ramadi, the Iraqi capital of Anbar province, a day after the city was captured by IS. The fall of Ramadi has scuppered Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's efforts to build a credible cross-sectarian force to fight the Islamic State group, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / HO / AAMAQ NEWS AGENCY = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS FROM ALTERNATIVE SOURCES, AFP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DIGITAL ALTERATIONS TO THE PICTURE'S EDITORIAL CONTENT, DATE AND LOCATION WHICH CANNOT BE INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED ==-/AFP/Getty Images
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on May 18, 2015 by Aamaq News Agency, a Youtube channel which posts videos from areas under the Islamic State (IS) group's control, allegedly shows IS fighters in a street of Ramadi, the Iraqi capital of Anbar province, a day after it was captured by IS. The fall of Ramadi has scuppered Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's efforts to build a credible cross-sectarian force to fight the Islamic State group, analysts said. AFP PHOTO / HO / AAMAQ NEWS AGENCY = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS FROM ALTERNATIVE SOURCES, AFP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DIGITAL ALTERATIONS TO THE PICTURE'S EDITORIAL CONTENT, DATE AND LOCATION WHICH CANNOT BE INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED ==-/AFP/Getty Images
An Iraqi boy, whose family fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, poses inside a tent at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
An Iraqi boy, whose family fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, carries a jerrycan of water at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
An Iraqi girl, whose family fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, looks on outside a tent at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi children, whose families fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, flash the sign of vitory at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
An Iraqi family, who fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, poses inside a tent at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
An Iraqi family, who fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, gathers inside a tent at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi families, who fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, talk to journalists at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi children, who fled with their families the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, gather outside tents at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi children, who fled with their families the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, gather outside tents at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYEAHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi fighters of the Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) stand guard outside their headquarters on May 18, 2015 in the Iraqi mainly Shiite southern city of Basra, as Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. "When it comes to readiness, we have more than 3,000 fighters waiting for a signal from the secretary general (of Asaib) Sheikh Qais al-Khazali," spokesman Jawad al-Talabawi said. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALIHAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi fighters of the Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) stand guard outside their headquarters on May 18, 2015 in the Iraqi mainly Shiite southern city of Basra, as Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. "When it comes to readiness, we have more than 3,000 fighters waiting for a signal from the secretary general (of Asaib) Sheikh Qais al-Khazali," spokesman Jawad al-Talabawi said. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALIHAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi fighters of the Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) stand guard outside their headquarters on May 18, 2015 in the Iraqi mainly Shiite southern city of Basra, as Shiite militias converged on Ramadi in a bid to recapture it from jihadists who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz. "When it comes to readiness, we have more than 3,000 fighters waiting for a signal from the secretary general (of Asaib) Sheikh Qais al-Khazali," spokesman Jawad al-Talabawi said. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALIHAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images
Residents from the city of Ramadi, who fled their homes on May 16, 2015 as Islamic State (IS) group militants tightened their siege on the last government positions in the capital of Anbar province, a day after they seized the city's government headquarters, wait to cross Bzeibez bridge, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province, after IS group jihadists took control of all the other routes connecting the province with the Iraqi capital. Taking control of Ramadi would constitute the group's most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give the jihadists control of the capitals of two of its largest provinces. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARARSABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
Residents from the city of Ramadi, who fled their homes on May 16, 2015 as Islamic State (IS) group militants tightened their siege on the last government positions in the capital of Anbar province, a day after they seized the city's government headquarters, wait to cross Bzeibez bridge, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province, after IS group jihadists took control of all the other routes connecting the province with the Iraqi capital. Taking control of Ramadi would constitute the group's most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give the jihadists control of the capitals of two of its largest provinces. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARARSABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
Residents from the city of Ramadi, who fled their homes on May 16, 2015 as Islamic State (IS) group militants tightened their siege on the last government positions in the capital of Anbar province, a day after they seized the city's government headquarters, walk towards Bzeibez bridge on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province, after IS group jihadists took control of all the other routes connecting the province with the Iraqi capital. Taking control of Ramadi would constitute the group's most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give the jihadists control of the capitals of two of its largest provinces. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARARSABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
A resident from the city of Ramadi, who fled his home on May 16, 2015 as Islamic State (IS) group militants tightened their siege on the last government positions in the capital of Anbar province, a day after they seized the city's government headquarters, crosses Bzeibez bridge on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province, after IS group jihadists took control of all the other routes connecting the province with the Iraqi capital. Taking control of Ramadi would constitute the group's most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give the jihadists control of the capitals of two of its largest provinces. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARARSABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
Residents from the city of Ramadi, who fled their homes on May 16, 2015 as Islamic State (IS) group militants tightened their siege on the last government positions in the capital of Anbar province, a day after they seized the city's government headquarters, walk towards Bzeibez bridge on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province, after IS group jihadists took control of all the other routes connecting the province with the Iraqi capital. Taking control of Ramadi would constitute the group's most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give the jihadists control of the capitals of two of its largest provinces. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARARSABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
Residents from the city of Ramadi, who fled their homes on May 16, 2015 as Islamic State (IS) group militants tightened their siege on the last government positions in the capital of Anbar province, a day after they seized the city's government headquarters, walk towards Bzeibez bridge on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province, after IS group jihadists took control of all the other routes connecting the province with the Iraqi capital. Taking control of Ramadi would constitute the group's most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give the jihadists control of the capitals of two of its largest provinces. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARARSABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi security forces stand guard as residents from the city of Ramadi, who fled their homes on May 16, 2015 as Islamic State (IS) group militants tightened their siege on the last government positions in the capital of Anbar province, a day after they seized the city's government headquarters, wait to cross Bzeibez bridge, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province, after IS group jihadists took control of all the other routes connecting the province with the Iraqi capital. Taking control of Ramadi would constitute the group's most important victory this year in Iraq, and would give the jihadists control of the capitals of two of its largest provinces. AFP PHOTO / SABAH ARARSABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
Iraq security forces withdraw from Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Suicide car bomb attacks killed over 10 members of Iraqi security forces Sunday in Ramadi, which now is largely held by the Islamic State group, authorities said. Last week, the militants swept through Ramadi, seizing the main government headquarters and other key parts of the city. It marked a major setback for the Iraqi government's efforts to drive the militants out of areas they seized last year. (AP Photo)

“What happened today is a big loss caused by lack of good planning by the military.”

Shia militias had arrived at a military base near Ramadi by Sunday evening, said the head of the Anbar provincial council, Sabah Karhout.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, claimed he was confident that Isis could be driven out with the help of coalition air strikes.

"I am convinced that as the forces are redeployed and as the days flow in the weeks ahead (Isis’ control is) going to change," he added.

Bodies, some burned, littered the streets of Ramadi as officials reported that Isis carried out mass killings of Iraqi security forces and civilians.

A video posted online showed Humvees, trucks and other equipment speeding out of the city, with Iraqi soldiers gripping onto their sides.

Iraqi children, whose families fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, flash the sign of vitory at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi children, whose families fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by Islamic State (IS) group militants, flash the sign of vitory at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in Bzeibez, on the southwestern frontier of Baghdad with Anbar province. AFP/Getty Images

A spokesperson for the Anbar government estimated that 500 people had been killed and 8,000 had fled the city, following another huge exodus in April, bringing the total of displaced people to 114,000.

The Prime Minister had ordered security forces not to abandon their posts across Anbar province, apparently fearing the extremists could capture the entire desert region that saw intense fighting after the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam.

But on Sunday Isis used bombings that killed at least 10 police officers to take the local headquarters and then detonated suicide bombs at the military’s Anbar Operation Command, the military headquarters for the province, killing five soldiers.

The group seized the remaining Malaab district after government forces withdrew, taking control of the military headquarters and abandoned army vehicles and weapons including artillery and guns.

Isis is now believed to control around a third of Iraq, as well as vast swathes of neighbouring Syria.

Source: Independent

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Iraq security forces withdraw from Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (AP Photo)
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