15 al-Qaeda militants killed, town retaken by Iraq army

15 al-Qaeda militants killed, town retaken by Iraq army
Mon Feb 17, 2014 19:12:11

Iraqi army troops backed by police forces have killed 15 al-Qaeda-affiliated militants, regaining the control of a northern town and nearby areas, an official said.

Iraqi forces backed by helicopters launched attacks on Sulaiman Bek from three sides, forcing al-Qaeda-affiliated militants who had overrun the Salaheddin province town to retreat, local official Talib al-Bayati told.

Militants initially took part of the town and nearby areas on Thursday, only to be pushed back the following day.

But security forces then withdrew for unknown reasons, Bayati said, and the militants were again in control of part of the town on Saturday and later made further gains.

At least four civilians had been killed and eight wounded since Thursday.

Sulaiman Bek has been hit by numerous attacks over the past year, and was briefly seized by al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in late April.

Al-Qaeda militants, emboldened by the conflict in neighboring Syria, have sought to position themselves as the champions against the Iraqi government, though major Sunni tribes oppose the group's extremist ideology and are fighting against it.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for national unity among Iraqis in the war against al-Qaeda.


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