Islamic State fighters took control of Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s largest province Friday, police in the city said, in what appeared to be a significant blow to a U.S.-backed military campaign to retake Iraqi territory from the extremist Sunni group.
By early afternoon, the militants had seized the government compound in downtown Ramadi, which is the capital of western Anbar province. Government forces had managed to hold on to the largely Sunni Muslim city of about 900,000 people in recent months, despite regular attacks by the Islamic State. The militant group seized most of the rest of Anbar last summer.
“The city’s fallen. They’ve taken it,” Maj. Omar Khamis al-Dahl, a senior officer in the Ramadi police, said by telephone.