Baghdad, February 26: At least 35 people were killed and 44 others wounded in airstrikes against positions of the Islamic State (IS) militants and violent attacks across Iraq on Thursday, security sources said.
The deadliest casualties occurred in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, when warplanes of the US-led anti-IS coalition struck their positions in and near the town of al-Qaim, some 330 km northwest of the capital Baghdad. At least 15 militants and seven civilians were killed, a provincial security source told Xinhua news agency on condition of anonymity.
More than 30 civilians and IS militants were also wounded in the airstrikes, the source said, adding that the bodies and the wounded people were evacuated to al-Qaim near the Iraqi Syrian border and the town of Albu-Kamal on the Syrian side of the border.
After the attacks, the IS militants imposed curfew on the town of al-Qaim, and prevented residents from opening their doors and windows, the source added.
Separately, at least 10 government-backed Shia militiamen, known as al-Hashed al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilisation, were killed and seven others wounded in heavy clashes with the IS militants in al-Doulab area, near the battlefield town of al-Baghdadi, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, the source said without giving further details about casualties among the extremist militants.
Meanwhile, the battles between the IS militants and security forces continued in al-Baghdadi, with troops facing fierce resistance inside the town. Explosives experts have been working hard during the past few days to defuse thousands of roadside bombs, booby-trapped vehicles and buildings.
“The reason behind the delay in seizing the town (al-Baghdadi) is the large number of roadside bombs that obstruct our progress in and around the town,” a security officer told Xinhua, adding that “the bloodiest clashes are concentrated in the southern part of the town”.
Also in the province, Iraqi warplanes carried out an airstrike on the town of Garma, just east of the militant-held city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, killing two children and wounding their father and another family member, the provincial source said.
The IS has seized around 80 percent of Iraq’s largest province Anbar and tried to advance toward Baghdad, but several counter attacks by security forces and Shia militias have pushed them back. Elsewhere, a civilian was killed and five others wounded when a car bomb was detoted near a court in the town of al-Mahmoudiyah, some 30 km south of Baghdad, an interior ministry source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June 10 last year, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the IS. The IS has taken control of the country’s northern province of Nineveh, and then seized swathes of territories after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in other predomintly Sunni provinces. (IANS)