IS Stopping Civilians Leaving Ramadi Before Attack

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -
Iraqi security forces take combat position at the front-line with Islamic State group militants as Iraqi Army and allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes are tightened the siege of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Iraq's military command has told civilians in the Islamic State-held Ramadi to leave the city, a sign that an operation may soon be underway to retake the provincial capital. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)
Iraqi security forces take combat position on the front line against Islamic State terrorists as Iraqi Army and allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters, supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, are tightening the siege of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, 70 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 30. (AP Photo/Osama Sami)

Islamic State terrorists are preventing civilians from leaving Ramadi ahead of an attack planned by the Iraqi army to retake the western city that the terrorists captured in May, an Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

“There are families that managed to escape the gangs of Daesh,” the spokesman, Naseer Nuri, told Reuters, using a derogatory name for the group.

“There is intelligence information from inside the city that they are preventing families from leaving; they plan to use them as human shields,” he added, without indicating the number of those who had managed to flee.

Iraqi military planes on Sunday dropped leaflets on Ramadi, asking residents to leave within 72 hours and indicating safe routes for their exit.

Iraqi intelligence estimates the number of Islamic State terrorists that are entrenched in the center of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, at between 250 and 300.