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Gunmen seize more areas in Iraq's Ramadi as battles continue in Anbar province

Gunmen on Tuesday regained control of more districts in Ramadi, the capital of the volatile Anbar province in western Iraq, after fierce clashes with Iraqi army backed by Sunni tribes.

The gunmen, including al-Qaida militants, fought the troops and the tribesmen in several districts in Ramadi, some 110 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, since Monday's evening. On Tuesday, they managed to retake control of most areas in central and northern city, a provincial police source told Xinhua.

There are no immediate reports about casualties as the battles are still underway, the source said.

Meanwhile, clashes continued between al-Qaida militants and the army backed by the tribesmen near the town of Khaldiyah, some 30 km east of Ramadi, the source said without giving further details.

The battles and sporadic artillery and mortar shelling forced dozens of families to leave their homes in Ramadi and Khaldiyah to safer places in other provinces, the source said.

Elsewhere, mortar barrage struck the town of Garma near the restive city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, killing at least three people and wounding six others, the source said.

In addition, one soldier was killed and three others wounded in fierce clashes continued in Garma between the security forces and al-Qaida militants.

Separately, Iraqis security forces clashed with gunmen near the city of Rutba, some 370 km west of Baghdad, killing three gunmen and arresting five others, the source said, adding that the troops seized three vehicles, including a booby-trapped one, in addition to several explosive vests.

Near Baghdad, gunmen attacked an army patrol in Abu Ghraib area, some 25 km west of the capital, killing two soldiers and wounding another, a local police source told Xinhua.

Anbar province has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December.

[Source: Xinhua, Ramadi, 14Jan14]

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