Ahead of offensive, Iraqi military tells civilians of Islamic State-held Ramadi to leave city

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BAGHDAD — 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.

Monday's statement, broadcast on Iraqi state TV, says the Ramadi families are requested to leave the city from its southern, Himaira area. No further instructions or details were given.

It's unclear if the long-awaited operation to recapture Ramadi is imminent.

The U.S.-led alliance carried out seven airstrikes near Ramadi on Saturday, targeting IS fighters, key positions and weapons caches.

IS captured Ramadi in May, after government forces abandoned their posts. The provincial capital of Anbar province is located about 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad.

The Sunni extremist group controls large swaths of territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

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