BAGHDAD – The U.S.-led international coalition carried out 29 airstrikes against the Islamic State jihadi group near Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s western province of Anbar, the American military said Monday.
“Near Ramadi, 29 airstrikes struck 67 ISIL staging areas destroying two ISIL excavators, an ISIL armored personnel carrier, and an ISIL vehicle,” the U.S. statement said, using another acronym for Islamic State.
The strikes were conducted on Sunday, on the eve of a fresh ground operation launched by Iraqi forces to tighten the noose on Islamic State in its bastions of Ramadi and Fallujah, Anbar’s two main cities.
Government forces had resisted Islamic State attacks in the provincial capital for almost a year and a half before retreating in the face of a three-day blitz by the jihadis in mid-May.
The fall of Ramadi, which lies on the Euphrates River about 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, was a huge blow to the government, which vowed to swiftly recapture it.
The coalition has conducted more than 5,200 strikes since it launched an air campaign against Islamic State almost a year ago.
Twenty-nine is an unusually high number of strikes for a single day and a single area.
A total of 38 strikes were conducted in Iraq on Sunday, including several in other parts of Anbar, the statement said.