Iraqi forces claim they have taken full control of Ramadi from Islamic State militants

The government there say they will target the final Iraqi IS stronghold of Mosul next

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Iraqi security forces enter heavy damaged downtown Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Image: Rwa Faisal / AP/Press Association Images

Iraqi forces claim that they are in full control of the city of Ramadi, re-capturing it from Islamic State fighters.

This victory came after weeks of intense fighting in the city, which lies 90km west of the capital Baghdad.

The final IS stronghold in Iraq is in Mosul - which the government there say they will target next.

However Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University, Paul Rogers, says that the victory might not be as big as the Iraqis are making it out to be.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Paul said "it's a very important event. One has got to be cautious though.

"It has taken about five months for the Iraqi army, with about 10,000 troops at its disposable, to take control of most of Ramadi, which is defended by between 600 and 1,000 ISIS fighters, many of whom have already left. It has proven extremely difficult to take this city".

A US defence official said it was so far unable to confirm the Iraqis' claims that they had recaptured the city.

The capture of Ramadi, capital of mainly Sunni-Muslim Anbar province in the Euphrates River valley west of the capital, would deprive IS militants of their biggest prize of 2015.

The Iraqi army had already retaken the city of Tikrit from the jihadists in the spring. The final stronghold for IS in Iraq is Mosul in the north, which the government is likely to target next.

State television broadcast footage of troops, Humvee vehicles and tanks advancing through Ramadi streets amid piles of rubble and collapsed houses. Some districts appeared to have been completely destroyed by the advance.

Officials did not give any immediate figures for the number of people killed in the battle. The government says most civilians were able to evacuate before it launched its assault.

Anbar provincial council member Falih al-Essawi called on the government to restore services to Ramadi quickly and start rebuilding the city to allow the return of the displaced.

"It will not be easy to convince families to return to a city that lacks basic human needs," he told Reuters.

Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, swept through a third of Iraq in June 2014 and declared a "caliphate" to rule over all Muslims from territory in both Iraq and Syria, carrying out mass killings and imposing a draconian form of Islam.

Its rise was aided by the swift collapse of the Iraqi army, which abandoned city after city, leaving fleets of armoured vehicles and other American weapons in the fighters' hands.