Over 130 Sunni militants killed in Iraq

Last Updated: Sun, Jul 13, 2014 23:55 hrs

Baghdad: At least 133 Sunni militants were Sunday killed in fierce clashes with security forces across Iraq, officials said.

The clashes with the Sunni militants, claiming to be from the Islamic State (IS), took place in al-Qadsiyah district in Tikrit.

At least 41 militants were killed and 26 of their vehicles destroyed, Xinhua quoted military spokesman Qasim Atta as saying in Baghdad.

The militants were trying to take hold of the district to use it as a launching pad to seize Tikrit, he said.

Atta said Iraqi forces were bracing for a major offensive to retake Tikrit from the Sunni militants within a short period, but the troops were acting cautiously to avoid casualties among civilians.

Also in the province, security forces repelled a new attack by insurgents on Baiji refinery, near Baiji city, 200 km north of the Iraqi capital, Atta said. A total of 20 militants were killed.

In the western Anbar province, security forces repelled a major offensive by militant groups that started Saturday to seize Haditha city, around 200 km west of Baghdad, and the nearby dam on the Euphrates river, he was quoted as saying.

Many soldiers, including an officer, and two members of the government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group were killed in the clashes.

On Saturday, Iraqi troops and some Sahwa members had fought back attacks on Haditha and the dam and killed some 40 militants.

Security forces continued their attacks on Ramadi in central Iraq and the nearby militant-seized city of Fallujah, leaving at least 21 militants dead, Xinhua said.

Iraqi aircraft bombarded the border crossing point of al-Qaim with Syria, which is under control of militant groups, and killed some 20 militants.

In the eastern province of Diyala, security forces continued the fight against Sunni militants in rural areas around Maqdadiyah city, 100 km northeast of Baghdad, killing 23 militants.

A security source said an IS militant group leader - said to be a cousin of top IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - and two of his aides were killed in a clash near Maqdadiyah.

Also in Diyala, Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, fought insurgent groups who seized the southern part of Jalawlaa city, and killed a leader of the Naqshabandiya militant group, Xinhua repoorted.

In another incident, an aircraft pounded a hideout of IS militants 65 km northeast of Baghdad, leaving five militants dead.

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