Iraqi forces have seized a huge cache of deadly ISIS weapons after recapturing parts of Ramadi, near Baghdad.
They paraded rockets made from gas canisters through the besieged city and laid out hundreds of explosive shells after a breakthrough battle against the terror group.
Some 300 ISIS fighters are thought to be trapped somewhere in Ramadi after blowing up a lock on the Euphrates River to keep the government forces from storming further into their slowly depleting territory.
ISIS has destroyed all other bridges leading to the centre of the city since Iraq launched a renewed push on Ramadi earlier this month.
‘Daesh [ISIS] forces trying to stop our progress bombed the last bridge which connects the city center,’ said Major General Ismail al-Mahlawi, the head of military operations in the western Anbar province
He said the locks’ destruction leaves some 300 IS fighters trapped in the center of the city.
Colonel Steven Warren, the spokesman for the US-led coalition in Baghdad, said the destruction of the bridge may prove to be a tactical mistake for ISIS.
He said: ‘What they’ve also done now is they’ve really cut themselves off. So the fighters left on the north side of the river can’t retreat and the fighters on the south side of the river can’t send reinforcements.’
Muhannad Haimour, the spokesman for the Anbar governor’s office, said he received reports from Ramadi locals that ISIS was also destroying buildings and radio towers.
‘We’ve seen this before; they tend to blow up not just bridges, but a lot of infrastructure inside the city,’ he said.
He added that ISIS fighters began moving their families out of Ramadi and toward the town of Hit around two months ago.
He believes the tide began to turn against ISIS in the Anbar provincial capital at that moment.
Haimour said the decision to arm Sunni tribal fighters from Ramadi against ISIS – which claims to be a Sunni group – was a key factor that changed the sluggish pace of the battle.
He said: ‘They didn’t feel like they had enough support from the coalition and the central government, but all of that changed a few months ago.’
There are now 8,500 members from Anbar organised, trained, armed and receiving salaries.
ISIS captured Ramadi in May and though the government immediately announced a counter-offensive, they have made slow progress in retaking the Sunni heartland of Anbar.
Iraqi forces, backed by US-led airstrikes, pushed into Ramadi earlier this week, and seized an army complex north of the city and a neighborhood on its outskirts.