Iraqi forces launch attack on militants in Anbar
BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces yesterday attacked a militant stronghold in the crisis-ridden Anbar province, while authorities found 14 bodies riddled with bullets in scenes reminiscent of the worst of Iraq’s sectarian war.
As parliamentary elections loom in April, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has ruled out dialogue with fighters who control parts of Anbar’s provincial capital, Ramadi, and all of Fallujah, which sits on Baghdad’s doorstep.
Early yesterday, around 3,000 security personnel, made up of units from the elite Golden Brigade linked to Maliki’s office, and the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Intervention Force, attacked a camp of suspected militants in Albubali, an area comprising villages and rural farmland between Ramadi and Fallujah.
They were supported by tanks and planes, according to a senior police officer and a policeman.
“The main objective is to take control of this area (Albubali),” the officer said.
They also aimed to recover the bodies of eight members of the security forces – four of whom have been missing for several days and whose death has since been confirmed, and four others who were killed when a house bomb collapsed on top of them .
Clashes were also reported just west of Fallujah overnight, as mortar shells in the town killed two people. It is unclear who took part in the clashes, or who was responsible for the bombardment.
The fighting first erupted in the Ramadi area on December 30, when security forces evacuated a year-old Sunni Arab protest camp.
It spread to Fallujah and militants moved in and seized the city and parts of Ramadi after security forces withdrew.
The bodies of 14 men who were abducted earlier yesterday by men wearing army uniforms, were found with gunshot wounds to the head and chest, in an orchard north of Baghdad, two officials said. security officials.