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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's armed forces will start an operation to retake the western city of Ramadi from Islamic State militants very soon, army chief of staff Lt. General Othman al-Ghanemi told state TV on Monday."There is an ongoing operation to control a sector in preparation of the onslaught on the city center within the coming hours, God willing," he said.An Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman said earlier that Islamic State militants were preventing civilians from leaving Ramadi before the planned attack on the city, which fell under control of the organization in May. Iraqi military planes on Sunday dropped leaflets on Ramadi, asking residents to leave within 72 hours and indicating safe routes for their exit.Iraqi intelligence estimates the number of Islamic State fighters that are entrenched in the center of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, at between 250 and 300.
Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli, Editing by Angus MacSwan