Iraqi forces started an offensive today to retake an area held by Islamic State west of the city of Ramadi in Anbar province.

The army is trying to oust the militants from a road with residential compounds and open the way to an army base that they have encircled, Faleh al-Issawi, the deputy chairman of the Anbar provincial council, said by telephone. The U.S.-led coalition is providing air support, he said.

Ramadi has been contested since January when Islamic State militants overran the nearby town of Fallujah. Its capture by militants would leave them in control of most major cities stretching along a highway running west from Baghdad to the Jordanian and Syrian border, and enable them to choke off supplies to the capital of OPEC’s second-largest oil producer. […]