Iraq launches final push against militants in Anbar

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces have launched a fresh attack against al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in the western province of Anbar as heavy fighting continues between the two sides.

A police officer said on Thursday that the security forces backed by tanks launched an overnight attack on the militants’ stronghold in Albubali area between the two cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.

“A big force last night attacked hideouts in an area of Albubali that had been turned into a stronghold for al-Qaeda fighters and, since this morning, there have been fierce clashes between both sides involving army tanks,” the unnamed officer said.

The cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar Province have been the scene of deadly clashes between the Iraqi army and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants over the past days.

Iraqi military officials said dozens of militants loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have been so far killed in Anbar.

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 violence later spread to nearby Fallujah. The security forces supported by Sunni tribesmen have been battling the militants to push them out of Ramadi and Fallujah.

Reports indicate that more than 250 people have been killed so far, including scores of militants.

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