Iraq halts anti-IS operation in Ramadi due to weather

Iraq halts anti-IS operation in Ramadi due to weather
Military operations to liberate Ramadi were brought to a halt after heavy rains wreaked havoc in Iraq and caused booby traps laid by Islamic State group to explode.
2 min read
30 October, 2015
Thunderstorms and massive downpours have wreaked havoc in several other parts of Iraq [Getty]

Heavy rains wreaking havoc in Iraq have brought military operations to wrest the city of Ramadi back from the Islamic State group [IS, formerly ISIS] to a halt, senior army officers said Friday.

"The military operations to liberate Ramadi have stopped because of the weather," said Ismail Mahalawi, the general in charge of Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital.

"The rain and humidity caused hundreds of explosive devices and booby traps laid by [IS] to explode," he told AFP.

"This led us to stop Ramadi operations because we want to avoid casualties," he said, adding that operations would resume next week.

Another senior officer also said that the bad weather was an obstacle to aerial support, which around Ramadi has involved daily airstrikes by the Iraqi air force and the US-led coalition.

Since Wednesday evening, thunderstorms and massive downpours have wreaked havoc in Baghdad and several other parts of the country, including in Anbar, west of the capital.

Thousands of people had to be evacuated to temporary shelters when the tents they were living in after fleeing the violence in Anbar were swept away by the rain.

Iraqi forces have in recent weeks been closing on IS, which took Ramadi from the government in May after a three-day blitz involving dozens of huge truck bombs.

Operations to retake the city were slow to begin but have picked up pace recently, with the few hundred IS fighters still in Ramadi almost entirely surrounded by government and allied forces.