Iraqi city of Ramadi to be de-mined

  • 05/04/2016
Destroyed buildings are seen in the city of Ramadi (Reuters)
Destroyed buildings are seen in the city of Ramadi (Reuters)

A US de-mining company is removing explosives and training Iraqis to dismantle the devices planted by Islamic State in the largest Iraqi city retaken from the militants, a diplomat and two US officials say.

Hundreds of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted throughout the streets and buildings of Ramadi, 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, have delayed the return of around half a million displaced residents since the Iraqi military backed by US air strikes recaptured the city three months ago.

The United Nations and the governor of Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, have said a shortage of Iraqi experts trained in dismantling the explosives has slowed efforts to restore security.

Several technicians have also been killed by snipers.

The Iraqi government's strained finances have also limited its ability to secure and rebuild areas recaptured from Islamic State including the northern cities of Tikrit, Baiji and Sinjar.

De-mining will be a critical first step in returning civilians to most of these areas.

The United States said on Monday (local time) it was allocating US$5 million for the contract with Tennessee-based Janus Global Operations Inc, which bills itself as "the largest commercial munitions management and de-mining company in the world".

A US official told Reuters that Norway also had agreed to kick in US$5 million and another US$5 million was expected to come from other partners in the US-led coalition battling Islamic State in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

A team of international experts arrived in Ramadi last week and conducted reconnaissance, according to Anbar Governor Sohaib al-Rawi.

About 3000 families returned over the weekend to districts that have been cleared of mines and explosives.