Militant leader killed in Iraq

Photo: Militant leader killed in Iraq / Arab World

Iraqi security forces and allied Sunni fighters on Friday killed a leading militant with links to al-Qaeda in the western province of Anbar, reported state-run broadcaster al-Iraqiya.

Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Baghdadi, a key leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, was killed in clashes in the city of Ramadi, according to the report.

The Iraqi government has launched a military operation in Sunni-dominated Anbar against insurgents who last week took control of the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, dpa reported.

Militants from the Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant have seized large areas in both cities after goverment forces cleared out an anti-government Sunni protest camp in Ramadi on Monday.

A security official said dozens of suspected militants were killed in Ramadi, the independent website Alsumaria News reported.

Police said Friday they had regained control of posts in Fallujah that had fallen to insurgents.

Anbar's police chief, General Hadi Razij told Alsumaria News that government forces had regained full control of Ramadi and were preparing to launch a security sweep across Anbar.

"We have coordinated with tribesmen and (pro-government Sunni) Sahwa fighters for a decisive battle with the armed groups," Razij said.

In December, the Iraqi military launched an operation in Anbar after 16 military personnel, including a senior commander, were killed in an attack by extremists with suspected ties to al-Qaeda.

Rising violence has raised the prospect of a return to the sectarian violence that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007.

According to UN estimates, 8,868 people were killed in 2013, the highest annual death toll in Iraq in five years.

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