Iraq Army Assault Underway to Eject Al-Qaeda
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - An operation is underway to drive hardline fighters out of Iraq's Anbar province, with an aerial assault by government forces hitting east of Fallujah, and clashes between the Iraqi army and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) near Ramadi leaving many dead.
Iraqi officials said fighting between the army and al-Qaeda-linked rebels near the provincial capital of Ramadi left at least 34 people dead on Sunday, including 22 soldiers and 12 civilians, AP reported.
The officials also said 58 people were wounded in the clashes, along with an unknown number of anti-government fighters.
Iraq's Defence Ministry also released footage on Sunday that it said showed aerial bombings of al-Qaeda fighters' hideouts, after the government vowed earlier in the day to launch a "major attack" to retake Fallujah.
The city has been in the hands of fighters from ISIL since Saturday, a senior security official said.
Iraqi officials said on Sunday that it would take a few days to wrestle Fallujah and Ramadi from ISIL control.
Some local Sunni tribes insisted they should be included in any military operation, while other tribes in the area vowed to fight government forces attempting to take action in the area.
"The tribal revolutionaries will fight to protect the city of Fallujah and we swear to take on anyone from this sectarian government. And we also promise to repel this dirty act by the central government," an unnamed commander of the Fallujah Military Council said.
The takeover of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, farther west, is the first time that tribal fighters have exercised such open control in major cities since the height of the bloody insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of 2003.