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Reports Of Iraqi Assaults On IS Gunmen In Anbar Capital

Smoke from previous clashes with Islamic State militants rises from a building near an Iraqi security forces military vehicle during an intensive security deployment in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, in December.

Security sources in Iraq's embattled Anbar province are claiming that Iraqi forces have carried out assaults against Islamic State (IS) gunmen in neighborhoods of the provincial capital, Ramadi.

The security source told Iraq's Al-Qurtas news on January 7 that Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters launched attacks against Islamic State militants in the Al-Hawz, Al-Andalus, and Al-Mualamin neighborhoods of Ramadi.

Security forces have also surrounded Islamic State militants who are hiding in abandoned houses in the al-Sajaria area east of Ramadi but that the outcome of those clashes is not yet known, reports say.

On January 6, Ramadi saw fierce clashes in its southern sector, which resulted in Iraqi security forces being able to take partial control of the Hawz district, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Iraq. Iraqi snipers also killed four Islamic State militants in Hawz.

Other Iraqi news outlets on January 7 quoted the Haditha district council chairman, Khaled Suleiman, as saying that U.S.-led air strikes west of Ramadi have killed tens of Islamic State militants. The casualty figures cannot be independently verified.

The U.S. Defense Department on January 6 announced via its website that the U.S.-led coalition had carried out two air strikes in Iraq, using remotely piloted and attack aircraft. One of the strikes destroyed an Islamic State bunker in Qaim, on the Syrian border west of Ramadi. The second strike destroyed Islamic State vehicles near the Asad military base. The Asad base, where U.S. troops deployed to train and advise the Iraqi army are based, came under fire from Islamic State mortars on January 5 and has come under "regular harassment fire," according to the Pentagon.

As Clashes Continue In Anbar, Civilians (Try To) Flee

Fierce clashes have continued this week elsewhere in Anbar, causing a mass internal displacement of civilians.

RFE/RL's correspondent in Iraq reported on January 6 that an Islamic State suicide bomber had blown himself up near a mosque in the Jubba area of the Baghdadi township. The heavy fighting in Baghdadi has led to a mass migration of civilians, who traveled by boat across the Euphrates River to the opposite bank, in the direction of the town center.

A mass migration of civilians is also taking place in Islamic State-controlled Fallujah, the RFE/RL correspondent reported, in the wake of reports that a major military operation against Islamic State gunmen is imminent. Although an Iraqi Operations source denied the reports, Fallujah residents are migrating from the city to rural areas, the correspondent said.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world.


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