Islamic State militants are holding around 200 families hostage in Ramadi, an Iraqi official said on Thursday, three days after the western city was mostly retaken from the terrorist group.

Head of the Anbar province’s local council, Sabah Karhut, said that the jihadists were holding the families in the eastern part of Ramadi to stop US-led coalition warplanes and Iraqi ground forces from hunting Islamic State remnants in the city.

“We are worried about lives of civilians being held by the terrorist organization, which yesterday [Wednesday] executed around 40 civilians in eastern Ramadi,” he added without giving details.

On Monday, the Iraqi army announced Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, “liberated”, seven months after it fell to Islamic State.

However, officials in the US-led coalition have estimated that around 700 Islamic State insurgents were still hiding inside Ramadi.  

Islamic State remains in control of much of Sunni Arab northern and western Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

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