An Iraqi soldier holds a national flag in the government complex in central Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. (AP Photo)
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Iraq declared the city of Ramadi liberated from ISIS Monday and raised the national flag over its government complex after clinching a landmark victory against the extremists.The former government headquarters in Ramadi was the epicenter of the fighting but Iraqi forces did not rush in when ISIS pulled out because the entire area was rigged.ISIS had an estimated force of around 400 fighters to defend central Ramadi a week ago.The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition praised the performance of the Iraqi forces in retaking Ramadi, an operation in which it played a significant role, training local forces, arming them and carrying out what it said were 600 air strikes since July.Nineveh is home to Iraq's second city of Mosul, from which ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria more than a year and a half ago.The Iraq army collapsed when ISIS attacked Mosul in June 2014 and swept across Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland virtually unopposed.
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