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Iraq Forces, IS Battle in Ramadi       11/22 13:04

   BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraqi soldiers backed by Sunni fighters launched a major 
operation Saturday to retake a section of the city of Ramadi seized by Islamic 
State group militants, an official and residents said.

   The fighting focused on Ramadi's eastern Sijariya neighborhood, which the 
extremist group said it captured Friday. An official with the Anbar provincial 
council described intense fighting there Saturday morning that included both 
sides firing mortars. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not 
authorized to brief journalists.

   Eyewitnesses there, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of 
reprisals, corroborated his account.

   Meanwhile, local residents in the town of Hit, in Anbar, said civilians were 
killed by an airstrike on a house. The strike, which eyewitnesses said took 
place just after noon prayers on Saturday, allegedly killed a family of four, 
including two children. It was not immediately clear which country was behind 
the strike.

   The Islamic State group has been trying to seize Ramadi, the capital of 
Anbar province, for months now. Sunni militants, including the group's 
fighters, seized parts of it last January.

   The Anbar official also said Islamic State fighters lined up and shot 
several men Friday from the al-Bu Fahd tribe, which is taking part in the fight 
against the militant group.

   Islamic State group fighters have killed more than 200 men, women and 
children from Anbar's Sunni Al Bu Nimr tribe in recent weeks, apparently in 
revenge for the tribe's siding with Iraqi security forces and, in the past, 
with U.S. forces.

   Earlier this month, an American advisory mission visited Anbar's al-Asad air 
base, searching for potential training locations for fighters battling the 
Islamic State group, which holds a third of both Iraq and Syria. The move is 
part of a U.S. plan to train Iraqi forces and Sunni tribesmen, reminiscent of 
the Sunni Awakening movement that confronted al-Qaida in Iraq starting in 2006. 
The U.S. launched airstrikes in Iraq on Aug. 8, and a number of countries have 
since joined in an effort to reinforce Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces fighting 
the Islamic State group. The U.S. is also part of a coalition of Arab allies 
that launched strikes in Syria.

   Meanwhile Saturday, police said two bombings around Baghdad killed eight 
people and wounded 21. Hospital officials confirmed the casualties. The 
officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to 
talk to journalists.


(KA)


 
 
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