Islamic State (IS) militants have reportedly encircled a second Iraqi military base in less than a week, despite being hit by more air strikes by a US-led coalition.
Nearly 200 soldiers from the second Battalion, 40th Brigade, tenth Division of the Iraqi Army are trapped inside the Albu Etha camp, located approximately 10km south of the city of Ramadi. They are running low on food, weapons and ammunition, Reuters reported.
An Iraqi soldier Hussein Thamir told the news agency: "There are troops behind us but they can’t reach us because the whole area is planted with roadside bombs and land mines.
"We are protecting ourselves by hiding behind some houses. If we withdraw, [we] will be killed."
An unnamed Iraqi intelligence officer said: "The situation inside and outside Ramadi is very bad. They (the army) are in a defensive mode.
"Each day (Islamic State) is carrying out an operation.
"We will lose Ramadi unless the American air force carries out air strikes on positions."
Over the weekend, the terrorists overran the Saqlawiya base, near Fallujah, capturing and executing hundreds of soldiers, while forcing several others to flee into the countryside.
Since 8 August, the US Central Command (Centcom) has carried out 198 air strikes against IS across Iraq, enabling Iraqi forces to take control of strategic facilities and towns.
Along with Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the US expanded its air campaign to Syria over the weekend, as part of US President Barack Obama’s comprehensive strategy to defeat the IS.
To date, the coalition has conducted 20 air strikes across Syria, with the latest targeting IS-controlled modular oil refineries in the vicinity of Al Mayadin, Al Hasakah and Abu Kamal in eastern Syria.
Centcom said in a statement: "Producing between 300 to 500 barrels of refined petroleum per day, ISIL (IS) is estimated to generate as much as $2m per day from these refineries.
"The destruction and degradation of these targets further limits ISIL’s ability to lead, control [and] project power and conduct operations."
Image: Islamic State fighters have surrounded the Albu Etha camp in Anbar province, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights.