25 killed in clashes with Sunni insurgents in Iraq

Photo: 25 killed in clashes with Sunni insurgents in Iraq / Arab World

A total of 25 people were killed and five others wounded in separate clashes between Iraqi security forces and extremist Sunni militant groups in Iraq on Thursday, security sources said, Xinhua reported.

Iraqi aircraft carried out two airstrikes on militants linked to the Islamic State group, an al-Qaida offshoot, near an airport outside the town of Duluiyah, some 90 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, killing 15 militants and destroying five vehicles, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, at least eight Islamic State militants were killed in fierce clashes with Iraqi security forces in the northern part of the town of Udhiem, a provincial police source said.

Near Baghdad, two civilians were killed and five others wounded in a mortar barrage on the Saba al-Bour area, just northwest of the capital, an Interior Ministry source anonymously told Xinhua.

Iraq has been plagued with violence for years since the U.S.- led occupation of the country in 2003, but the situation has deteriorated dramatically when violence from the raging civil war in neighboring Syria spilled over the country's borders.

The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State group, a regional armed Islamist militia fighting in Syria, has gained significant ground in Iraq, especially in the Sunni areas. Over a month ago, Islamic State militants stunned the world when they stormed towns in Iraq' s north, seizing swathes of territory while continuing their advance on other parts of the country.

The fighting in Iraq has caused thousands to flee their homes, especially ethnic and religious minorities who have been targeted by the Islamist insurgents.

The international community has called on Iraqi political leaders to create a more "inclusive" government to quell the insurgency, while the United States has recently said it is considering a range of military options to stop the Islamic State' s advance and protect refugees. The U.S. has supported Kurdish fighters and the Iraqi government by carrying out a dozen airstrikes against Islamic State forces in recent days.

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