Middle East

Baghdad halts Ramadi refugee flow after capture by IS

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Media captionJohn Simpson reports from Baghdad as Iraqis question why their army can't protect them from Islamic State

The authorities in Baghdad have closed a key bridge, stopping refugees fleeing the city of Ramadi from entering the Iraqi capital.

More than 40,000 people have left Ramadi since its capture by Islamic State militants earlier this week.

It is not clear why Bzebiz bridge was closed, though there have been concerns that militants could mingle with the displaced and infiltrate the capital.

Bzebiz is seen as the one safe crossing to Baghdad from Anbar province.

The United Nations World Food Program said it had begun sending food aid into the province.

About 25,000 received emergency assistance on Thursday and supplies for another 15,000 were on their way, the WFP said.

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Media captionHow is Islamic State run?

IS militants are reported to be pressing eastwards from Ramadi down the Euphrates Valley towards Habbaniya where pro-government forces are massing for a proposed counter-attack on Ramadi.

If they take Habbaniya, IS will be close to linking up directly with Falluja, a city close to Baghdad which has been held by the Sunni militant group for well over a year despite repeated attacks by government force.

On Friday Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq warned that fighting IS was no longer a "local matter", and called on the international community to act.

In the latest advance, IS militants seized the last Syrian government-controlled border crossing between Syria and Iraq on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

The loss of al-Tanf to IS follows the group's takeover of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra on Thursday.

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