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Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:52AM
Iraqi soldiers monitor a checkpoint on the outskirts of Baghdad, on January 10, 2014

Iraqi soldiers monitor a checkpoint on the outskirts of Baghdad, on January 10, 2014

Iraqi forces have regained a town in a counterattack against al-Qaeda-linked militants in the western province of Anbar, senior army officials say.

On Wednesday, the officials said on condition of anonymity that the army soldiers, backed by Sunni tribesmen, managed to retake the city of Saqlawiya, in the northwest of Fallujah, from the militants.

The counterattack came a day after the militants killed three soldiers by blowing an explosives-laden fuel tanker at an army checkpoint on a small bridge near the city.

The militants then stormed into Saqlawiya and surrounded the main police station. They forced all the policemen out of the station after disarming them.

The security forces supported by Sunni tribesmen have been battling the militants since the conflict erupted in the west of the country.

The violence in Anbar 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.” The bloodshed later spread to nearby Fallujah.

On Friday night, the United Nations Security Council published a statement, backing Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the battle against the militants from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Anbar.

NT/AS/MHB

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