‘Islamic State’ kills two Iraq senior officers in Anbar province
BAGHDAD - The Islamic State jihadist group killed two senior officers and 10 other soldiers in a suicide bombing and heavy fighting in Iraq's Anbar province, a general said on Saturday.
"The commander of the 1st Division, Staff Brigadier General Hassan Abbas, and the commander of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division, Staff Colonel Hilal Matar, and 10 soldiers were killed and 10 wounded," Staff Major General Mohammed al-Dulaimi said.
IS seized parts of the Nadhim al-Tharthar area east of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi during the fighting on Friday and government forces counterattacked, Dulaimi said.
Residents of Fallujah said that Islamic State militants paraded an officer and three soldiers allegedly captured in the fighting through the streets in a pickup truck on Saturday. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Troops, including tanks, have been rushed to the area and were fighting Saturday in this rural region dotted with small villages.
Iraqi security forces control pockets of territory in Anbar, a vast desert province that stretches from the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the western approaches to Baghdad.
But the majority of the province is held by the Islamic State group, which spearheaded an offensive last June that overran swathes of territory north and west of Baghdad.
Some areas have been out of government control for longer than that. Anti-government fighters seized parts of Ramadi and all of Fallujah, to its east, in early 2014.
Security forces had been reporting incremental progress this past week, including seizing a key bridge the militants had been using to supply their forces. Some of the 100,000 residents that had fled Ramadi have started to return.