Iraq celebrates Ramadi’s freedom
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq flew to the western city of Ramadi on Tuesday to celebrate its “liberation” from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant as jubilant, flag-waving Iraqis thronged the city’s battle-scarred streets with cars and pickup trucks.
ISIL fighters continued to hold out in several suburbs, and troops were trying to clear car bombs planted on the city’s perimeter.
While the government was not in full control of Ramadi, Abadi’s trip under heavy guard to the city, where he visited military and police forces, was a show of resolve.
Emboldened by the success in Ramadi, he vowed to take the fight to Mosul, a larger city in northern Iraq that ISIL seized in June 2014.
“The [ISIL] gang is collapsing because of the military operations and hard strikes by our heroic forces,” Abadi wrote on Facebook. “The next step is to liberate Mosul and to cleanse the Iraqi lands.”
Col. Steven Warren, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said he was confident that the Iraqis would be able to hold onto Ramadi.
“We don’t think the remaining enemy has the oomph to push the Iraqi security forces off of their positions,” he said.
New York Times
Attack kills ISIL leader in Syria
The U.S.-led military coalition fighting against ISIL killed a key leader in Syria who had direct ties to the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Paris and was planning more attacks against the West, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
Army Col. Steven Warren, spokesman for the coalition, told reporters that Charaffe al Mouadan was killed Dec. 24 in an airstrike.
Warren declined to say where in Syria the attack occurred, and described it as part of a wave of attacks carried out since Dec. 7 that have killed 10 ISIL leaders, including others involved in “external operations” that included plotting attacks in the West.
“We will continue to hunt ISIL leaders who are working to recruit, plan and inspire attacks against the United States of America and our allies,” Warren said.
The attacks in Paris killed 130 people on Nov. 13. ISIL claimed responsibility for them. The suspected leader of the attackers, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in a police raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis five days later.
All 10 of the ISIL leaders killed and named on Tuesday were targeted with airstrikes, mostly using unmanned aircraft, Warren said.