The Iraqi army has withdrawn from its last base in the city of Hit in Anbar province following weeks of fighting with the ISIL, leaving the group in full control, security sources have said.
Hundreds of troops were pulled out of the base and relocated to help protect the Asad air base, the AFP news agency quoted a police colonel in the provincial capital of Ramadi as saying.
“Our military leaders argued that instead of leaving those forces exposed to attacks by ISIL, they would be best used to shore up the defence of Asad air base,” he said. “Hit is now 100 percent under ISIL control.”
Asad is a large base northwest of Hit and one of the last still under government control in the western province. It is surrounded by desert and a tougher target for ISIL fighters.
Other security officials said military aircraft picked up senior officers from the Hit base, and the rest of the force drove in a convoy to Asad.
Government forces have suffered a series of setbacks in Anbar in recent weeks, and officials have warned that their grip on the capital Ramadi was increasingly tenuous.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from the Iraqi capital Baghdad, said that ISIL’s takeover put nearby towns including Amiri under threat.
“Amiri is a very key town, that is where the main supply line from Anbar province into Baghdad and the rest of the south of the country goes from,” he said. Al Jazeera