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Iraqi officials say 23 soldiers, Sunni fighters killed

By AP - Aug 23,2015 - Last updated at Aug 23,2015

BAGHDAD — At least 23 Iraqi soldiers and government-allied militiamen were killed Sunday in an attack by Daesh militants in the turbulent Anbar province west of Baghdad, Iraqi military and police officials said, in the second heavy death toll suffered by the Iraqi military and its allies in recent days in the vast Sunni region.

The officials said Sunday's attack, which killed 17 soldiers and six Sunni militia fighters, took place in the rural district of Jaramshah, north of Anbar's provincial capital, Ramadi.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

They said the Daesh fighters used suicide bombings and mortar shells and that chief of army operations in Anbar, Maj-Gen. Qassim Al Dulaimi, was lightly wounded in the attack.

News of Sunday's attack came two days after up to 50 soldiers were killed by Daesh in two ambushes elsewhere in Anbar province, much of which is under Daesh control, including Ramadi and the key city of Fallujah.

Government forces and allied Sunni and Shiite militiamen have been battling Daesh militants in Anbar for months, but, hampered by suicide bombings and booby trapped buildings, they have only made modest gains against the extremist group, which controls much of western and northern Iraq.

Also in Anbar, the officials said a joint attack by police and Sunni militiamen against Daesh positions in the Browanah area on Sunday was thwarted by the militants. Seven militiamen and three policemen were killed in the attack, they said.

In the oil refinery town of Beiji north of Baghdad, a spokesman for a government-backed Shiite militia said a series of suicide car bombings launched by Daesh over recent days have killed at least 25 of his men.

The spokesman, Naziem Al Assadi from the Imam Ali Brigades, gave no further details, but other militia officials in the area spoke of at least 100 dead and injured in the attacks.

Government troops liberated Beiji from Daesh control late last year, but government forces and allied Shiite militiamen there have recently come under mounting pressure from Daesh militants advancing on the town. A top military commander familiar with the situation there told The Associated Press on Sunday that Daesh militants now control about 50 per cent of both the town of Beiji and the refinery, a sprawling complex located a short distance to the north.

Elsewhere in Iraq on Sunday, a Russian-made military helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing after it was hit by ground fire in Salahedeen province north of Baghdad. The aircraft's crew members were not hurt, according to security officials. Daesh said its fighters downed the helicopter near the city of Samarra in the same province.

In scattered violence in Baghdad and its environs, six people were killed and 32 people were injured on Sunday by roadside bombs south and northeast of the city, according to security and hospital officials.


All officials and the top military commander spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

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