Iraqi forces continue efforts to retake siezed northern areas, kill 15 militants
At least 15 militants were killed by Iraqi security forces in a government assault on the northern town of Sulaiman Bek, according to Agence France Presse.
Police and army forces attacked the sieged town from three sides in its effort to retake the northern town from the anti-government fighters. Local official Talib Al Bayati told AFP that the assault was successful, forcing the fighters to withdraw from the town that they seized control of last Thursday.
Fifteen militants were killed in the assault and another four civilians have died since the militants assumed control of the town. Eight other civilians have been wounded as well.
The siege of Sulaiman Bek is a "small-scale version" of the Anbar crisis, where anti-government fighters have controlled the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah for weeks.
The situation in Fallujah and Ramadi are unprecedented in recent years, representing the first time anti-government militants have "exercised such open control" since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Sulaiman Bek was previously seized by militants in April last year, but the siege was only brief.
Over 370,000 people have been displaced due to the continuing clashes and violence in Anbar, according to the U.N.'s figures.
Sectarian violence has pushed Iraq to the worst level of violence and bloodshed since 2008.