15 soldiers killed in IS attacks in Iraq

Baghdad, (IANS) At least 15 soldiers were killed after the Islamic State (IS) minitants attacked the positions of Iraqi security forces in Anbar province on Monday, a security source said.

Four suicide bombers detonated their explosive-laden vehicles into the positions of Iraqi security forces and allied militias known as Hashd Shaabi (popular mobiliation) in Haqlaniyah area, just northeast of Haditha town, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, Xinhua quoted the source as saying.

The blasts were followed by heavy clashes between dozens of IS militants and the troops, leaving at least 15 security members killed and 18 others wounded, the source said without giving further details about the casualty among the militants.

Monday’s attack came a day after the IS militants carried out a wave of six suicide car bombings on the nearby dam of Haditha but was thwarted by the security forces and allied Sunni tribal fighters.

The IS militants repeatedly carried out attacks to seize the key dam near Haditha on the Euphrates river but were repelled by the troops and local Jughaifi Sunni tribesmen.

Fierce clashes erupted on Monday morning when Iraqi forces and allied militiamen advanced to free the Sunni town of Saqlawiyah and Sheiha area in north of the IS-held city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, from IS militants. But the clashes ended when three suicide bombers rammed their vehicles into the troops’ positions and blew them up, the source said.

The IS group has seized most of Anbar province and is trying to advance toward Baghdad in the past few months, but several counter attacks by security forces and Shia militias have pushed them back.

In Iraq’s Salahudin province, the security forces and Hashd Shaabi militiamen launched an attack on IS positions in northern part of Baiji town, some 200 km north of Baghdad, destroying four IS positions and killing three suicide bombers, along with blowing up six booby-trapped vehicles, a security source said.

The battle in Baiji came about a week after the security forces and allied militias, covered by Iraqi and US-led coalition aircraft, cleared most of the town after days of heavy clashes with the IS militants.

Since March 2 this year, security forces and thousands of allied Shia and Sunni militias have been involved in Iraq’s biggest offensive in order to recapture from IS militants the northern part of Salahudin province.

The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June 2014, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and hundreds of militants from the IS.

The militants took control of the country’s northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territories after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.

Earlier, a UN report said that the violence in Iraq left 12,282 civilians killed and 23,126 injured in 2014, the deadliest year since the flare-up of sectarian violence in 2006-2007.

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