An Iraqi fighter of the Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) stands guard outside the militia's headquarters on May 18, 2015 in the Iraqi mainly Shiite southern city of Basra. AFP PHOTO/HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI
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A column of Shiite militia fighters arrived at a military base near Ramadi Monday as Baghdad moved to retake the western Iraqi city that fell to ISIS militants in the biggest defeat for the government since last summer.The U.S.-led coalition stepped up air raids against the Islamists, conducting 19 strikes near Ramadi over the past 72 hours at the request of the Iraqi security forces, a coalition spokesman said.Ramadi is dominated by Sunni Muslims.The city's fall marked a major setback for the forces ranged against ISIS: the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi security forces, which have been propped up by Iranian-backed Shiite militiasThe Iraqi government and Shiite paramilitaries recaptured former dictator Saddam Hussein's Tigris River home city of Tikrit from ISIS six weeks ago, the biggest advance since the militants swept through northern Iraq last year.Taking Ramadi was the biggest victory for ISIS in Iraq since security forces and Shi'ite paramilitaries began pushing the militants back last year, aided by coalition air strikes.While the government in Baghdad has urged Sunni tribes in Anbar to accept help from Shiite militia against ISIS, many Sunnis regard the Shi'ite fighters with deep hostility. The Iraqi government had vowed to liberate Anbar after routing the militants from Tikrit.
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