57 killed in Iraqi province as US advisors arrive

Baghdad, June 14 (IANS) Up to 80 US military advisors arrived in Iraq’s western province of Anbar to train Iraqi forces and Sunni tribal fighters on Saturday, while suicide car bombers and an air strike against the Islamic State (IS) militants killed 57 people across the volatile province, a provincial official and a security source said.

Eid Ammash, a member of Anbar’s provincial council, told reporters that the first batch of 80 US advisors to train the Iraqi forces and tribal fighters has arrived at Habbaniyah airbase.

“Those advisors will train the security forces and tribal fighters and provide logistical support and military plans to them during the battles for the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah to liberate them from the control of the terrorist organisation Daash (the Arabic acronym of IS),” Ammash said.

Ammash’s comments came three days after the White House announced that US President Barack Obama authorised the deployment of up to 450 more American troops to Iraq to train and assist the Iraqi forces and Sunni tribal fighters battling the IS extremist group.

Meanwhile, dozens of IS militants carried out an attack with four car bombs on a military base north of the IS-held town of Garma, just east of the city of Fallujah, which is located some 50 km west of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, killing 18 soldiers and members of Shia militias known as Hashd Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) a provincial security source told Xinhua news agency .

The attacks also wounded 25 troops and militiamen and set fire to at least seven military vehicles, the source said.

Another suicide attack occurred when two bombers detonated their explosives-laden vehicles at military positions in Haiyakil area, just south of the militant-seized city of Fallujah, killing at least 11 security personnel and Hashd Shaabi militiamen, the source said.

In Fallujah, a booby-trapped car detonated, apparently by mistake, leaving four IS militants dead, the source added.

Also in the province, Iraqi aircraft pounded two IS vehicles in Jubba area near the town of Baghdadi, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, killing eight militants and wounding five others, the source said, citing intelligence reports.

The IS group has seized most of Iraq’s largest province of Anbar and tried to advance toward Baghdad, but several counter attacks by security forces and Shia militias have pushed them back.

The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June last year, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the IS.


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