Islamic State militants said they had taken full control of the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Sunday in the biggest defeat for the Baghdad government since last summer, Reuters reports.
In a statement, the group said it had seized tanks and killed “dozens of apostates”, its description for members of the Iraqi security forces.
Ramadi is the capital of Iraq’s western Anbar province, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi signed off on the deployment of Shi’ite militias to attempt to seize back the area, a move he previously resisted for fear of provoking a sectarian backlash.
According to BBC, the Iraqi government is reported to be sending Iran-backed Shia militias to Ramadi to recapture the city seized by Islamic State (IS) militants on Sunday.
About 500 people are reported to have died when the Iraqi military abandoned positions in the city – only 112km west of Baghdad.