Armed forces head towards Fallujah, government says, but are expected to face strong resistance from ISIL fighters.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has continued to launch a series of deadly attacks against Iraqi government forces on the edges of the western city of Ramadi, days after they were driven out of the city centre.
The latest attacks killed at least 11 members of the Iraqi security forces, sources told Al Jazeera on Saturday.
Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Belawi told the Associated Press news agency that ISIL struck security forces with a series of car bombs in two areas on the city’s outskirts.
Belawi said the troops repelled the attacks and did not lose territory.
Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, fell to ISIL in May, marking a major setback for US-backed Iraqi forces. Iraqi troops retook the city centre on Monday, but ISIL fighters are still holed up in parts of the city.
“The majority of these are outside downtown Ramadi to the north and east,” Colonel Steve Warren, the Baghdad-based US coalition spokesman, said.
“We haven’t seen ISIL mass enough combat power to move Iraq off their positions.”
Iraqi officials said gains in Ramadi lay the groundwork for an eventual assault on Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which fell to ISIL in June of 2014.
On Friday coalition planes launched five air strikes near Ramadi targeting ISIL tactical units, heavy weaponry and fighting positions.
Near Mosul, three air strikes destroyed an ISIL fighting position and a facility used to make car bombs, a coalition statement said Saturday.