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Iraqi security forces recapture large parts of al-Baghdadi town

English.news.cn   2015-02-14 20:59:09

BAGHDAD, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces and allied militiamen fought the Islamic State (IS) militants and recaptured large parts of a town located near major air base of Ain al-Asad which houses hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source said on Saturday.

The security forces and Sunni tribesmen backed by U.S. and Iraqi aircraft launched an offensive in the early morning hours on the town of al-Baghdadi, some 200 km northwest of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, and seized the central part of the town, including the town hall and its police station, after hours of heavy clashes with the extremist militants, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The troops are still fighting the IS operatives in several pockets in northern and northeastern part of the town, the source said.

"The town is almost under control of the security forces and the battles are under way to push back the militants with the support from the U.S. Apache helicopters," the source added.

On Thursday, the IS militants attacked the al-Baghdadi town and the nearby Ain al-Asad air base and managed to seize the town, but their attack on the air base was repelled by the security forces after the troops killed seven suicide bombers.

Ain al-Asad military base is used by Iraqi military forces, as well as roughly 300 U.S. Marines working as military trainers and advisers.

During their presence in the town, the extremist militants executed 33 people, many were local policemen and members of government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group, the source said.

On Saturday, sporadic clashes continued around the military base, while the IS militants are still pounding the air base with mortar and Katyusha rockets since Friday night, the source added.

The IS group has seized around 80 percent of Iraq's largest province of Anbar and tried to advance toward Baghdad, but several counter attacks by the security forces and Shiite militias have pushed them back from areas west of the capital.

Since December last year, insurgent attacks continue in the Sunni Arab heartland in west of Baghdad that stretches through Anbar province, which has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside the city of Ramadi.

The security situation in Iraq began to drastically deteriorate on June 10, when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and the IS group, an al-Qaida offshoot, who took control of the country's northern province of Nineveh and later seized swathes of territories after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in other predominantly Sunni provinces.

Editor: xuxin
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