Iraqi medical officials say fighting between Islamic State militants and government forces in western Iraq has left nearly 60 people dead, with militants sending waves of suicide bombers at government strongholds.
In Hit, a small government-controlled town that straddles the Euphrates River between the strategic Haditha dam and Ramadi on the main highway to Syria, two militant suicide bombers spearheaded an attacked a police compound.
Colonel Jabbar al-Nimrawi said police killed about 20 of attackers who tried to storm their way into the compound in the wake of the blasts. At least seven policemen and four soldiers also were killed in the battle. The militants failed to take the Iraqi post.
Militants also attacked the headquarters of the Iraqi Army's 8th Brigade just outside Ramadi, sending waves of suicide bombers in an attempt to breach the compound's fortified walls.
Army officer Awad al-Dulaimi said 13 suicide bombers died in the initial waves of the attack, along with eight militants who were killed in an ensuing firefight.
At least six soldiers were killed there.
The attacks by IS militants come after Iraqi government forces have made gains in recent days in the western province of Anbar, seizing the town of Rabia on the border with Syria and consolidating positions in the town of Haditha and around the Haditha dam.
Those gains have come after a U.S.-led international coalition began launching air strikes against militant positions in western and northern Iraq to support Iraqi government forces.
In the northern city of Mosul on October 2, which in under the control of IS militants, RFE/RL's Iraq service reports that warplanes were used to drop leaflets urging the civilians to stay clear of areas where IS militants are located ahead of expected air strikes on the city.
Meanwhile, a United Nations report released on October 2 said Islamic State (IS) militants and other armed groups have committed a "staggering" number of gross human rights violations and "acts of violence" in northern Iraq that could amount to war crimes.
The joint report by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights lists serious violations of international law and gross abuses committed from July 6 to September 10.
The offenses include mass executions, the abduction of women and girls as sex slaves, and the use of children as fighters.
The report also said Iraqi government air strikes had caused "significant" civilian deaths and injuries, particularly in Anbar Province.
It said nearly 10,000 people were killed in Iraq by Islamists in September and some 1.8 million Iraqis fled their homes.
Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Iraq Service, AFP, and AP