ISIS on Killing Spree in Captured Iraqi City
Fall of Ramadi 'indeed a setback,' White House says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2015 12:02 AM CDT
Updated May 19, 2015 6:22 AM CDT
Displaced Iraqis from Ramadi cross the Bzebiz bridge after spending the night walking toward Baghdad, Saturday, May 16, 2015.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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(Newser) – ISIS militants searched door to door for policemen and pro-government fighters and threw bodies in the Euphrates River in a bloody purge yesterday after capturing the strategic city of Ramadi, their biggest victory since overrunning much of northern and western Iraq last year. Some 500 civilians and soldiers have died in the extremist killing spree since the final push for Ramadi began Friday, authorities say. Hundreds of Iranian-allied Shiite militiamen responding to a call from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have rushed to a military base near Ramadi to prepare for an assault to try to retake the city, provincial officials say. The order came despite Obama administration concerns that the presence of Shiite fighters in the Sunni-dominated region could spark sectarian bloodshed.

The loss of Ramadi was a stunning defeat for Iraq's security forces and military, which fled as ISIS extremists overwhelmed their last holdout positions despite the support of US-led airstrikes. Online video showed Humvees, trucks, and other vehicles speeding out of Ramadi, with soldiers desperate to reach safety gripping onto their sides. The UN says more than 6,500 families have also fled the city in recent days, with the hospital in the nearby city of Khalidiya reporting many casualties. The White House conceded yesterday that the loss of Ramadi was "indeed a setback" and reassured Baghdad that it will help Iraqi forces take it back. (FBI Director James Comey describes ISIS as a "devil on the shoulders" of homegrown extremists in the US.)