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Arriving from Baghdad, federal police forces arrive to create a barricade to protect the Habaniyah military base near Ramadi, Iraq, in eastern Husaybah town, 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of Ramadi on Monday. (AP Photo)[/caption]
Shiite militias converged on Ramadi to try to recapture it from jihadists on Monday who dealt the Iraqi government a stinging blow by overrunning the city in a deadly three-day blitz.
The loss of the capital of Iraq's largest province was Baghdad's worst military setback since it started clawing back territory from the Islamic State (IS) group late last year.
Washington, which had made Anbar -- of which Ramadi is the capital -- a cornerstone of its assistance to Baghdad against ISIS, admitted to a "setback".
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had been reluctant to deploy Shiite militias to Anbar province for fear of alienating its overwhelmingly Sunni Arab population. He favoured developing locally recruited forces, with support from the United States.
But militia commanders said Ramadi's fall had shown the government could not do without the Popular Mobilisation units.
A counter-offensive was expected to start soon, before ISIS has time to build up its defences.