Isis sleeper cells and double agents helped capture of Ramadi

Isis captured Ramadi on Sunday with the aid of sleeper cells inside the strategic city and double agents within the Iraqi security forces, an adviser to Baghdad on the terror group and an Iraq expert have revealed.

The sleeper cells, believed to consist of dozens of militants who were Ramadi locals, were mobilised by Isis leaders, according to Dr Hisham al-Hashimi, the adviser to the Iraqi government on Isis who exclusively revealed to Newsweek last month that a former physics teacher had temporarily replaced the terror group's caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"The sleeper cells in Ramadi [were] activated by Isis commanders in Iraq," Hashimi tweeted late last night. "All evidence and studies have shown that Isis fighters who took Ramadi were locals of city. Most operated as sleeper cells."

"Corrupt ISF commanders in Ramadi took bribes in exchange for battle plans and logistical information," he added.

The terror group's militants overran the Iraqi forces defending Ramadi on Sunday, forcing them into retreat. Since then a large force of Iranian-backed militiamen has amassed in the area, preparing for an assault to retake the city.

Residents have claimed that Isis have already started planting landmines around the city to prepare for the battle while there have been reports of executions of government supporters. The UN has also estimated that 25,000 people have fled the city which is situated 105km (65 miles) from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Sajad Jiyad, Iraq expert and director of research at independent consultancy Integrity, confirms the use of sleeper cells and double agents in the attack and says that any attempt to recapture Ramadi will take over two months, a similar timeframe to the offensive on Tikrit.

"Sleeper cells definitely played a part. We know the external assault on Ramadi was maybe 200-300 men," says Jiyad. "It was not massive but there were dozens of men inside Ramadi itself, inside the city. They were working undercover for Isis and were sleeper cells and they smuggled in weapons so they began an external and an internal assault."

"Isis has double agents. They have people who they have recruited from last year," he adds. "Remember, the prime minister issued an amnesty last month saying everybody who had left their jobs could come back and they would not be punished. So there are people who have come back to their jobs and they probably have their allegiance and loyalty to Isis."

The loss of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, deals a significant blow to Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi's mission to oust the terror group from the territory it captured when it swept across the country last summer. The spreading of Iraqi forces battling Isis in western Iraq and northern Iraq has almost certainly delayed a projected spring offensive on Mosul to 2016.

However, the downfall of Ramadi has been expected. In March, the group carried out 21 simultaneous suicide bombings in government-held districts in the western city, killing 10 people and wounding 30. Ramadi is one of Iraq's largest cities and represented one of the Iraqi government's last strongholds in Anbar province on the path towards Baghdad.

It is believed that an offensive to recapture the city won't begin until the terror group's militants are contained and prevented from moving further eastward towards Baghdad. The group were repelled from taking the town of Khaldiyah, east of Ramadi, by Iraqi forces and Sunni tribesman on Monday, a tribal leader told the Associated Press.