Share This Page

Iraq strike takes out 25 rebels

| Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, 9:45 p.m.

BAGHDAD — A government airstrike on Tuesday killed 25 al-Qaida-linked militants in a besieged province west of Baghdad amid fierce clashes between Iraqi special forces and insurgents battling for control of the key cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, said Iraqi officials.

The al-Qaida gains in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar — once bloody battlegrounds for U.S. troops — pose the most serious challenge to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government since the departure of American forces in late 2011.

Iraqi forces and fighters from government-allied Sunni tribes have been battling militants to try recapturing the strategic territory It was seized last week by the al-Qaida-linked group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

Iraq military spokesman Gen. Mohammed al-Askari said the air force struck an operations center of the militants on the outskirts of Ramadi, the provincial capital. The assault killed 25 fighters who were holed up inside.

He didn't give more details about how the death toll was confirmed but cited intelligence reports. It was not possible to independently verify the military's claim.

The airstrike occurred when clashes erupted about 12 miles west of Fallujah after the capture of an army officer and four soldiers in the area on Monday, said provincial spokesman Dhari al-Rishawi.

The attacks continued when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden truck into a police station in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing two people there and wounding 55, some critically, according to Maj. Raid Emad Rasheed.

A roadside bomb struck an army patrol southeast of Baghdad, in the Madain area, killing one soldier and wounding another, a police official said. Another bomb hit a patrol of pro-government Sunni militiamen in Baghdad's southeastern suburb of Jisr Diyala, killing one fighter and wounding four, he added.

A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to talk to the media.

The death toll in 2013 was the highest in Iraq since the worst of the sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.