Iraq: Fighters Killed in Air Raids in Anbar
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The fight to control Iraq's biggest province, Anbar, intensified, with air attacks by the military killing dozens of people and the army preparing an assault on a city controlled by al-Qaeda linked fighters.
Missile strikes on Ramadi, the provincial capital, killed 25 people on Tuesday, according to an Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman, while Fallujah remained deserted as residents fled the violence and the army ready to launch an operation to regain control of it.
"It is not possible to assault (Fallujah) now" due to concerns about civilian casualties, Staff Lieutenant-General Mohammed al-Askari, a Defence Ministry spokesman, told AFP.
Parts of Ramadi - the capital of Anbar province, west of Baghdad - and all of Fallujah were seized by al-Qaeda-linked fighters last week.
It is the first time al-Qaeda-linked fighters have exercised such open control in major cities since the height of the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion.
Overnight, security forces and allied tribesmen sought to retake south Ramadi from fighters loyal to the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but the assault failed.
"Security forces and armed tribesmen tried last night to enter areas controlled by ISIL fighters in the south of the city," a police captain in Ramadi told AFP.
"Clashes between the two sides began about 11:00 pm (2000 GMT) last night and continued until 6am," he said, adding that "security forces were not able to enter these areas and ISIL fighters are still in control."
Four civilians were killed and 14 wounded in the fighting, according to Ramadi hospital's Dr Ahmed Abdul Salam, who had no casualty figures for security forces or the fighters.