The US-led coalition supporting Iraqi ground troops in Ramadi said about 700 fighters from the group calling itself Islamic State (ISIL) are holed up around Ramadi.
Point of view
"God bless the soldiers that came and rescued us from the beasts. They are beasts with no humanity. What they do is not Islamic."
Iraqi forces claimed victory over ISIL one week ago (December 27) and have been working to clear the remaining pockets.
Iraq’s defence ministry said ISIL had stepped up suicide attacks in response to setbacks in Ramadi.
On Sunday (January 3) five suicide bombers killed at least 15 security personnel and wounded 22 others outside a former US base in Tikrit.
ISIL claimed responsibility in an online statement.
Families reportedly being used as so-called human shields by ISIL have been pulled to safety by the Iraqi military.
One man described the tough conditions under ISIL.
“They are blood-thirsty people who don’t know the meaning of humanity, God bless you for rescuing us. Yesterday they [ISIL] came to us and told us ‘either get out or we’re going to booby trap the houses’. God bless the security forces from the lieutenants to colonels up to the highest ranks. God bless the soldiers that came and rescued us from the beasts. They are beasts with no humanity. What they do is not Islamic.”
Soldiers escorted groups of freed civilians into vehicles.
Many were disabled or elderly, some with gunshot wounds to their arms and legs.