Along the majestic Euphrates, the city of Ramadi is immersed in debris from the dilapidated buildings, engulfed with bullet holes on all sides. The people of Ramadi have witnessed their fair share of violence in the past; unfortunately, it remains an everyday part of their lives as the Islamic State, backed by tribal militias, engage the Iraqi Army. Civilians in Ramadi have witnessed at least 700 deaths since January 2014 and the death toll continues to rise.

Located 100 KM west of Baghdad, Ramadi remains an imperative city for the Iraqi Army in the vast Al-Anbar province. When the Islamic State entered the city, many feared that they would enter Baghdad from the west. Since the capture of Ramadi, the Iraqi Army has held strong, thanks to their air supremacy and technologically advanced weapons arsenal. With successful operations commencing east of the city, the Iraqi Army was poised to begin an offensive to retake the city.

The Iraqi Army’s offensive in Ramadi began with the capture of Al-Anbar University; however, its momentum was obstructed by the Islamic State this morning, as both sides are embedded in a stalemate. 2 suicide attacks by the Islamic State created a little counter-offensive for the I.S., but it was quickly halted by the Iraqi Army. The fighting has intensified since the morning, with heavy firefights reported near the 8th Brigade. Should the Iraqi Army retake the city of Ramadi, the Islamic State could face a large-scale retreat westward. For the Iraqi Army, this might be their most vital battle; failure means that the I.S. could counter and head east towards Baghdad.

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