BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Islamic State gunmen fired at an Iraqi government building in central Ramadi on Friday, local officials said, and mosques broadcast appeals for reinforcements to confront the apparent attempt to take full control of the city.
Most of Ramadi, about 90 km (55 miles) west of Baghdad, is already held by Islamic State which controls large parts of northern and western Iraq.
Losing the provincial capital would be a setback for government forces after they broke an Islamic State siege of the country’s largest refinery this week and hoped to gain critical momentum in the battle against the Sunni militants.
Hathal al-Fahdawi, a local council member for the western province of Anbar, said gunmen were firing from rooftops of buildings in Mualimeen neighborhood into central Ramadi.
Another council member, Mohammad Mahmoud, said security forces and tribal fighters were preventing the militants from advancing from Mualimeen toward the government complex, and clashes were still ongoing.
“Mosques are asking anyone who can carry weapons to confront the attackers,” Fahdawi said.
The fighting inside the city occurred as militants launched coordinated attacks to the east and west of Ramadi, residents and local officials said.
Fahdawi said Islamic State fighters took over the village of Al Shujairiya, about 20 km east of Ramadi. A tribal leader said security forces killed 12 militants who tried to storm a mosque and a house close to Shujairiya.
Reporting by Raheem Salman; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Michael Georgy and Andrew Heavens