Over 100 Killed in Iraq Insurgency Battles
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - More than 100 people were killed in Iraq on Friday as authorities engaged Al-Qaeda-linked fighters who have announced the creation of an Islamic state in one of the two cities in Anbar province.
Government troops with the help from the local allied tribesmen carried out an assault in Fallujah, firing heavy artillery rounds at a location where up to 150 Qaeda-linked fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were positioned, an anonymous military official told AP, adding that troops also advanced into the city of Ramadi.
At least 32 civilians and 71 ISIL fighters died as the results of clashes, officials told AFP, adding that they did not know how many police and tribesmen were killed.
Parts of Ramadi and Fallujah, a stronghold of the insurgency during the US-led invasion, have been held by militants since Wednesday.
Local witnesses report that hundreds of gunmen, some with the black jihadist flag, gathered in central Fallujah, with one fighter shouting "We announce that Fallujah is an Islamic state and call you to stand by our side," AFP reported.
The insurgents also announced via loudspeakers, "We are your brothers from the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant. We are here to protect you from the government. We call on you to cooperate with us," AP quoted.
The latest battles in the Ramadi started on Monday, after authorities removed the main anti-government protest camp set up in late 2012.
At least 14 people were killed on Monday and Tuesday in and near Ramadi, while the toll from the following two days remains unclear.
The clashes then spread to Fallujah, where Islamist fighters in the region on Wednesday took over police stations, freeing prisoners, steeling ammunition and security forces' vehicles.