Iraqi security forces and paramilitaries deploy in the Al-Nibaie area, northwest of Baghdad. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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Iraq's Shiite paramilitaries said Tuesday they had taken charge of the campaign to drive ISIS from the western province of Anbar, giving the operation an openly sectarian codename that could infuriate its Sunni population.Shiite militiamen, supported by a smaller group of government troops, advanced Tuesday to within a few kilometers of a university on Ramadi's southwestern edge, police sources and Sunni tribal fighters allied to the government said.The loss of Ramadi a week ago was swiftly followed by the fall of the UNESCO heritage city of Palmyra in Syria, the two biggest gains by ISIS fighters since the U.S. began airstrikes on them in Iraq and Syria last year.In Iraq, the regular military's failure to hold Ramadi has forced the government to send in the Iran-backed Shiite paramilitaries. Just weeks ago, the Baghdad government and allied militia appeared to be having success against ISIS, recapturing former dictator Saddam Hussein's home city of Tikrit.ISIS sustained heavy losses in an army attack near Palmyra Monday, the source added.
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