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Iraqi security forces battle Sunni militants near Baghdad

Iraqi security forces on Friday fought fiercely with Sunni militant groups in several provinces north and east of the capital Baghdad, security sources said.

In Salahudin province, military aircraft carried out many air strikes in some neighborhoods in the provincial capital city of Tikrit, leaving an undetermined number of people killed and wounded, the source said.

One of the strikes hit the emergency department of a main hospital in Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, killing three hospital workers and wounding seven others, also damaging part of the building, the source said.

In city of Baiji, about 30 km north of Tikrit, the Iraqi air force repeatedly bombarded the city and the areas surrounding the adjacent refinery, killing and wounding many people and damaging several houses, the source said, adding that the attacks on the residential areas pushed dozens of families to leave their homes to safer areas.

Earlier, insurgent groups had overran the city of Baiji and a large part of the Sunni-predominant province of Salahudin, including Tikrit.

In the eastern province of Diyala, fierce clashes continued on Friday between the security forces and the Sunni militants, including those who are linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, an al-Qaida offshoot, in the town of Dally Abbas, some 30 km north of the provincial capital city of Baquba, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The battles in the partially militant-seized town left at least four soldiers killed and 17 people wounded, the source said.

In addition, battles continued in the town of Mansouriyah, some 40 km east of Baquba, after the militants took control the area on Thursday night. Three civilians from a same family were killed and three others wounded when a mortar round landed on a house, the source added.

Two more people were killed in a shootout in the town of abu- Saida near Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, when six gunmen, affiliated with Asa'b Ahl al-Haq Shiite militia, were wounded in an ambush by Sunni militants in Maqdadiyah, the source said.

Elsewhere, four civilians were killed and eight others wounded when mortar rounds landed in the predominantly Sunni town of Mahmoudiyah, some 30 km south of Baghdad, a local police source said.

Iraq have been witnessing its worst security conditions that began more than two weeks ago when armed Sunni insurgents launched a surprise offensive that led to the debacle of Iraqi security forces and the fallen of a large part of the country's northern and western territories.

[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 27Jun14]

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