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Security forces fight back Sunni militant groups in Iraq
Iraqi security forces on Sunday struggled to drive back the Sunni militants in several provinces across the country, leaving more than 180 gunmen killed, a military spokesman said.
In Salahudin province, the security forces backed by aircraft fought fierce clashes with militant groups in and near the provincial capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, killing a total of 29 militants, a military spokesman Lieutenant General Qassim Atta told a news conference in Baghdad.
Separately, the troops repelled a major overnight attack by Sunni militant, including those who are linked to the Islamic State (IS), an al-Qaida offshoot, on a military air base in north of Tikrit, that previously was used by the U.S. forces, known as Camp Speicher, which is still under the control of Iraqi troops, Atta told reporters.
The security forces, with air support, fought back another overnight militant offensive against the oil refinery of Baiji, located some 200 km north of Baghdad, Atta said.
"The security forces repelled all the attacks against Camp Speicher and Baiji refinery, leaving a total of 90 terrorists killed, along with bombing 10 of their vehicles," Atta added.
Also in the province, up to 20 militants were killed while they were trying to booby-trapped the provincial government building, Atta said, adding "a huge blast occurred in the building by their explosives."
In Anbar province, the security forces clashed with militant groups and killed 27 of them in al-Haiys area near the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, the spokesman said, adding that 10 others were killed in separate clashes across the province.
Elsewhere, clashes erupted during the day between the security forces and Sunni militant groups in Jurf al-Sakhar area in the northern part of the country's central province of Babil, killing seven militants and destroying several of their vehicles, Atta said.
In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, sporadic battles between the security forces and the Sunni militants continued across the province, while the military aircraft carried out air strikes against the insurgent posts in the areas of Shirwin and Duweiliba, which are located some 110 km northeast of Baghdad, Atta said without giving further details.
Meanwhile, Atta confirmed that Iraqi officials are analyzing the online video clip that purportedly showed the leader of the Sunni extremist group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first public appearance at a mosque in Iraq's northern city of Mosul.
"The video has been investigated and verified by being compared with the information available with the security services, as we have files about the terrorist Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, nicknamed al- Baghdadi," Atta told reporters.
The video appearance came a few days after the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida breakaway group, proclaimed the establishment of a "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq, crowned its leader Baghdadi as the "caliph," and changed its name into the "Islamic State (IS)."
Iraq has been witnessing its worst security conditions that began about three weeks ago when armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by the ISIL, 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, 06Jul14]
War in Iraq
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