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Iraqi forces repel IS attacks in Salahudin, Anbar
Iraqi security forces repelled attacks by Islamic State (IS) militants Sunday in the provinces of Salahudin and Anbar, according to security sources.
In addition, a wave of car bombings struck commercial areas in the country's capital city Baghdad, security sources said.
In Salahudin, troops and allied militias - known as Hashd Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization - repelled an overnight attack by dozens of IS militants from two directions on Iraq's largest oil refinery of Baiji, 200 km north of Baghdad, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
IS militants were forced to withdraw following heavy clashes with the troops which resulted in two huge fires in a few of the refinery facilities, the source said.
No more details were given regarding casualties as sporadic clashes were still underway with several extremist militants who refused to withdraw and continued fighting in some buildings.
On April 18, security forces freed the vast oil refinery of Baiji after fierce clashes with militants who had captured parts of it earlier. However, the militants repeatedly carried out failed attempts to reclaim the refinery.
Since the early hours of the morning, additional security forces arrived to Baiji, partially held by IS militants, to support troops fighting for over a week to fend off extremist militants holed in the western neighborhoods of the town.
The battles in Baiji and the nearby oil refinery are part of a large-scale operation launched over 10 days ago aiming to recapture areas seized by IS militants north of the province.
Since March 2, around 30,000 Iraqi troops and thousands of allied Shiite and Sunni militias have been involved in Iraq's biggest offensive in order to recapture from IS militants the northern part of Salahudin, including Tikrit and other key towns and villages.
In Anbar, Iraqi security forces continued their advance to recover the Nadhim al-Taqseem area near Tharthar Lake north of Fallujah, 50 km west of Baghdad, a provincial security source anonymously informed Xinhua.
The troops managed to regain control of most of the area which extremist militants seized Friday following attacks, including suicide bombings targeting security bases in the area.
Several security members and senior officers were killed, including Brigadier General Hassan Abbas Toufan, commander of the army's 1st Division, along with three other officers.
IS seized most of Iraq's largest province of Anbar and attempted to advance towards Baghdad, but several counter attacks by security forces and Shiite militias have pushed them back.
In Baghdad, a source from the Interior Ministry told Xinhua that a total of seven people died and about 32 others were injured in three car bomb attacks targeting populous and commercial areas in and near Baghdad.
One of the attacks took place in the town of Mahmoudiyah, 30km south of Baghdad, when a car bomb exploded in a commercial area by the passport office in the town center, killing a civilian and wounding nine others, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Also in Baghdad, another booby-trapped car detonated around noon at the downtown crowded commercial street of Saiyd Sultan Ali, killing at least three people and wounding 13 others, the source said.
Furthermore, the source said that at least three people were killed and 10 others injured when a booby-trapped car exploded in a parking lot in the Amil district in south west Baghdad, where numerous construction workers awaited to be hired for their day jobs.
Iraq has witnessed some of the worst violence in years. Terrorism and violence has killed at least 12,282 civilians and injured 23,126 others in 2014, making it the deadliest year ever since the sectarian violence in the period between 2006 and 2007, according to a recent UN report.
[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 26Apr15]
War in Iraq
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