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Iraqi troops kill 25 militants in Ramadi

Iraqi troops have killed 25 al-Qaeda-linked militants in Ramadi in the western province of Anbar, a spokesman for Iraq's Defense Ministry says.

Iraqi forces targeted militants on Tuesday with "missile strikes, resulting in the killing of 25," Staff Lieutenant General Mohammed al-Askari said.

Last week, the government lost control of parts of Ramadi and all of Fallujah -- another city in Anbar -- to the militants. Since then, the province has been the scene of the heaviest clashes between the security forces and the militants in Iraq for years.

The militants are said to have the support of certain regional countries that benefit from instability in the Middle East.

Police said on Tuesday that security forces and government-allied Sunni tribesmen failed to recapture south Ramadi from the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in an overnight attack.

"Security forces and armed tribesmen tried last night to enter areas controlled by ISIL fighters in the south of the city," a police captain stated.

He added that after seven hours of intense fighting "security forces were not able to enter these areas and ISIL fighters are still in control."

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry spokesman said that Iraqi forces will delay assaulting Fallujah over concerns about civilian casualties.

The violence broke out on December 30, 2013, when the army removed an anti-government protest camp in Ramadi. Authorities said the camp was used as "headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda." The bloodshed later spread to nearby Fallujah.

On Monday, Iraqi forces killed 30 ISIL militants in Fallujah.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on the people of Fallujah to "expel the terrorists" so that "their areas are not subjected to the dangers of armed clashes."

[Source: Press TV, Tehran, 14Jan14]

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