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Sun Jan 5, 2014 5:33PM
Militants roam a street in the western city of Ramadi on January 4, 2014.

Militants roam a street in the western city of Ramadi on January 4, 2014.

Iraqi jets have bombed hideouts of al-Qaeda militants in the western province of Anbar as Baghdad gets ready for a major offensive to retake the city of Fallujah from the militants.

On Sunday, the Iraqi jets launched an airstrike against the militants in the strategic city of Ramadi on the Euphrates River, killing 25 al-Qaeda-linked militants.

This comes as Iraqi security forces are preparing for a major attack on Fallujah. According to a security official, Special Forces have conducted several operations in the city on Sunday.

The Iraqi army has been also deployed around the city ahead of the operations to provide residents with a safe passage.

Earlier, a senior military commander said it would take Iraqi forces up to three days to fully drive the al-Qaeda-linked militants out of the two cities in the western province.

The cities of Fallujah and Ramadi have been the scene of deadly clashes between security forces and the al-Qaeda-affiliated militants over the past days.

The fighting left more than 100 people dead in the two flashpoint cities on Friday, security officials said.

The violence broke out on December 30, 2013, when the army removed an anti-government protest camp in Ramadi. Authorities said the camp was used as "headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda."

However, the move prompted 44 Iraqi lawmakers to announce their resignation and call for "the withdrawal of the army."

The withdrawal cleared the way for militants from the terrorist group of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which operates in Iraq and Syria.

The people of Fallujah and Ramadi soon called for the return of the army to the restive cities to restore order.

MAM/PR/SS

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