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Attacks kill 13 as Iraq forces hit Anbar militants

03 February, 2014

BAGHDAD: Iraqi government forces pressed their assault on militant strongholds in Anbar province on Sunday as attacks elsewhere killed 13 people, with intensifying violence fuelling fears of a return to all-out conflict.

The effort to win back parts of Ramadi, capital of the western province of Anbar and one of two cities that either entirely or partly fell out of government control weeks ago, comes with violence at its highest level since 2008. Soldiers and police fought alongside armed pro-government tribesmen in southern Ramadi in some of the heaviest clashes of recent weeks, a police officer and an AFP journalist said.

They were making slow progress in retaking militant-held neighbourhoods as acting Defence Minister Saadun al-Dulaimi visited to oversee operations. Two police officers said the assault had led to government forces wresting back control of parts or most of several key areas of Ramadi, including the Malaab, Street 60, Humeirah and Albu Jabar districts.

The renewed government assault came a day after the defence ministry announced warplanes and artillery had hit a neighbourhood of northern Fallujah, a rare military operation inside the city itself. The army has largely stayed out of Fallujah, a short drive from Baghdad, fearing major incursions could ignite a protracted conflict with massive civilian casualties and damage to property.

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