Six months after losing the Anbar capital city of Ramadi to ISIS, the Iraqi military today is dropping leaflets on the city reporting a full-scale offensive will be carried out in the next 24-hours, and are ordering all civilians out of the city.
Iraq’s military has made much out of trying to surround the city of Ramadi for several months, and in recent days had reportedly done so, cutting off supplies between ISIS defenders in the city and the rest of Anbar. After six months of holding the city, ISIS is believed to have significant defenses in place.
As far as the civilians fleeing from the city, it seems unlikely, even if ISIS allows free travel out of the city that the bulk of the population could get out in less than 24-hours. Pre-war Ramadi had a population of over 500,000 people, though there have been several exoduses in previous battles so it’s unclear how many are actually left.
A successful retaking of Ramadi would be a huge victory for the Iraqi military, and by far the largest city they’ve attempted to recapture. ISIS holds virtually the entire Anbar Province, except for some of the easternmost portions near Baghdad.