Iraqi officials say the country's military has launched a major operation to retake a section of the city of Ramadi after Islamic State group militants seized it.

An official with the Anbar provincial council says the Iraqi military, backed by local tribesmen, are pushing into the neighborhood of Sijariya in eastern Ramadi after the militants said they captured it Friday.

The official said there was intense fighting Saturday with mortars being fired by both sides. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists.

Eyewitnesses there, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, corroborated his account.

The Islamic State group has been attempting to seize Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, for months.