World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi security forces launched a counter-attack on ISIL in the western province of Anbar on Monday, seeking to reverse an early setback in a new campaign to recapture the region.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the new Anbar offensive last week, but ISIL then overran two districts on the northern outskirts of the provincial capital Ramadi.
A policeman in one of those districts, Albu Faraj, said security forces had recaptured around 40 percent of it on Monday, but were facing stiff resistance from the armed group.
"Today, Anbar province, and specifically Ramadi, is subject to the most aggressive attack in more than a year," Anbar governor Suhaib al-Rawi told al-Hadath television channel late on Monday.
"We need additional forces because the battle in Anbar is fierce and ISIL is using all different kinds of weapons."
ISIL has reinforced its ranks with fighters from elsewhere in the province and planted bombs to hinder the advance, said Anbar provincial council member, Athal al-Fahdawi.
The new offensive in Anbar was supposed to build on a victory in the city of Tikrit, which Iraqi forces, including paramilitaries, retook this month, but the groups have struck back elsewhere, including at the country's largest refinery in Baiji.
A provincial official said the armed groups were attacking Baiji to divert attention away from Anbar.
"Their key focus is not Baiji; the prime target is Anbar," said Khazaal Hammad. "There is a big battle in Anbar, so ISIL is trying to distract them."Last Mod: 14 Nisan 2015, 09:35