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61 killed in violence, clashes with IS militants in Iraq
A total of 61 people were killed on Sunday, most of them were Islamic State (IS) militants, in clashes, air strikes and gunfire across Iraq, security sources said.
In Anbar province, the army artillery pounded IS positions in Saggara area near the city of Haditha, some 200 km northwest of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, leaving 26 IS militants killed along with destroying two of their vehicles, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the security forces and allied Sunni militias repelled sporadic attacks by the IS militants on military positions in three villages and Alous area near the IS-held city of Heet, some 160 km west of Baghdad, killing 15 IS militants and destroyed eight of their vehicles, the source said.
Also in the province, up to 10 people were killed and 19 others wounded in air strikes by Iraqi aircraft on several districts in the IS-seized city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, the source added.
Residents in Fallujah and nearby areas frequently accused the Iraqi army of indiscriminately targeting their neighborhoods, but the Defense officials denied and said that they are targeting militants.
The IS group has seized most of Anbar province and tried to advance towards Baghdad during the past few months, but several counter attacks by security forces and Shiite militias have pushed them back.
In Salahudin province, the security forces and allied militias known as Hashd Shaabi, or popular mobilization, attacked an IS position at a desert area near the city of Samarra, some 120 km north of Baghdad, killing nine IS militants and destroying two of their vehicles carrying arms and ammunition, a provincial security source told Xinhua.
Since March 2, security forces 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 province, including Tikrit and other key towns and villages.
The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June last year, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and IS militants. The IS took control of the country's northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territories after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.
Earlier, a police source from the city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, told Xinhua that unidentified gunmen shot dead Saad Hassan al-Karbalie, head of operations in the state-owned North Oil Company, while he was leaving his office in the afternoon heading to his house in the city.
The ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk is part of the disputed areas claimed by the Kurds and both Arabs and Turkomans. The Kurds want to incorporate the areas on the edge of their Kurdistan region, but their move is fiercely opposed by Baghdad government.
Iraq has been witnessing some of the worst violence in years. Terrorism and violence have killed at least 12,282 civilians and wounded 23,126 others in 2014, according to United Nations report.
[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 28Jun15]
War in Iraq
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