Ten ISIL militants, two Iraqi soldiers killed in Anbar

Published December 1st, 2014 - 12:20 GMT

At least ten Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants and two Iraqi soldiers were killed on Monday in clashes between the Iraqi army and ISIS militants in Anbar’s Ramadi district, Iraqi security sources said.

Colonel Hamid Chanduch, a police officer from Ramadi, confirmed that ten militants and two soldiers were killed and that four soldiers were wounded in clashes in Ramadi's al-Hoz district, as well as some other regions.

Iraqi security forces have been trying to hold off ISIS assaults on Ramadi, which lies 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of the capital and is one of the last major urban areas in Anbar under Baghdad's control.

Clashes erupted last Thursday when jihadists attacked government headquarters in the troubled Anbar province, leaving four members of the security forces dead and 21 wounded.

Reinforcements had been deployed in the city since then.

Ramadi has been on the verge of falling under ISIS control several times this year, but Iraqi forces there have so far prevented that.

Parts of Ramadi and all of Fallujah, to its east, have been outside government control since the beginning of the year, but vast expanses of the Anbar province has since been seized by ISIS in a sweeping offensive last June.

Large swathes of land in Iraq have become ISIS strongholds as the extremist group, which declared a "caliphate" in the territory it seized in Iraq and Syria, drove Iraq's army – the recipient of $25 billion in US training and funding since the 2003 invasion – to collapse.

The United States, backed by some Western and Arab allies, launched airstrikes against the group in Iraq in August, expanding operations to targets in Syria a month later.

However, the air campaign, which Washington says aims to degrade ISIS' military capability, remains the subject of debate, with critics pointing to ISIS' advances and battlefield successes despite the raids.

Despite successful advances against ISIS, the Iraqi army and pro-government fighters still face major challenges in the battle against the jihadist group, which holds large areas of the country, including the key cities of Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah.

Mosul has become the focus of the government's military efforts because of both its size and its symbolic status after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a public speech at the Grand Mosque there in July.

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