Iraqi forces take back some areas of Anbar province
Iraqi government forces have allegedly taken back control of its Western Anbar province that has been under control of the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for the past few weeks, according to Agence France Presse Wednesday.
Security forces allied with local tribal fighters regained control of Albu Farraj north of Anbar's capital, Ramadi as well as the outskirts of Fallujah, including the Al Nasaf area.
"Iraqi security forces have taken control of Albu Farraj, [and] we will give it back to the tribes and police forces to return the area to normal," defense ministry spokesman Mohammed Al Askari told reporters.
However, ISIL still controls most of Fallujah, despite government efforts to retake the city. Witnesses told AFP that ISIL has actually "tightened it grip" on the city in recent days.
The province has repeatedly been described by Iraqi officials as "an important base" for Al Qaeda-linked militants.
The battles in Anbar represent the first time that militants have "exercised such open control in Iraqi cities" since sectarian conflict plagued the nation in 2006-2007.
World powers have urged Iraq's government to "address long-term grievances" among the minority Sunni community in an effort to curb growing violence throughout the country that has already left 850 people dead this month alone.
More than 140,000 people have had to flee their homes within the last month due to the violence in the province, according to U.N. statistics.
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- Iraqi forces make major gains in Anbar province
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- Iraq government loses control of Fallujah