Week of fighting in Iraq's Ramadi kills 30 police

Week of fighting in Iraq's Ramadi kills 30 police
A car bomb exploded in Baghdad on Monday, killing several civilians, as Iraqi officials confirmed that a week of fighting Islamic State in Ramadi has killed 30 police officers.
3 min read
27 April, 2015
Iraqi security forces take position during fighting against Islamic State (IS) group [AFP]

A week of heavy fighting between Iraqi security forces and the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in Ramadi in Anbar province has killed at least 30 police officers, a top officer said on Monday, as a car bombing in a busy commercial area in the capital Baghdad killed at least seven civilians.

The Monday afternoon attack took place in Baghdad's southwestern neighbourhood of Bayaa. The explosives-laden car was parked near a real estate office in an area where dozens of people gather every day.

Baghdad has seen near-daily attacks as security forces struggle to dislodge the Islamic State group from vast areas in northern and western Iraq seized by the extremists last summer.

"The city of Ramadi witnessed heavy confrontations and fighting last week between security forces" and IS, Anbar police chief Staff Major General Kadhim al-Fahdawi said, putting the toll at 30 police killed and 100 wounded.

Parts of the capital of Anbar province have been out of government control since early 2014, and IS seized more territory in the Ramadi area this month.

Major attacks also hit other areas of Anbar last week, including three suicide bombings claimed by IS targeting the Iraqi side of the Trebil border crossing with Jordan on Saturday that officials said killed seven people.

Thirteen soldiers, among them two senior officers, were killed in a bombing and clashes east of Ramadi on Friday, Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi said.

Obeidi on Sunday rejected reports that more than 100 soldiers were killed in the violence, which was originally said to have taken place in the Nadhim al-Tharthar area, but which he said was actually 30 kilometres (18 miles) to the south.

Rumours of the massive death toll sparked calls for a demonstration in Baghdad and for Obeidi to be questioned by parliament or resign.

Iraqi security forces control pockets of territory in Anbar, a vast desert province that stretches from the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the western approaches to Baghdad.

But much of the province is held by IS, which spearheaded an offensive last June that overran swathes of territory north and west of Baghdad.

Officials in Anbar have given Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi the go ahead to use any military force, including the Popular Mobilisation militias, to help free the province from IS control.

For months, the officials have had reservations about Popular Mobilisation's participation in Anbar operations, fearing a similar fate to that of Tikrit.

A member of the provincial council, Hamid al-Hashem, told al-Araby al-Jadeed, "The local government has given approval to Abadi - the highest authority in charge of security in Iraq - to choose the necessary military force to fight the Islamic State group including the army, the police, or the Popular Mobilisation."

In a press statement, the governor of Anbar Sahaib al-Rawi said "Hundreds of tribal members have started to volunteer to join the Popular Mobilisation militia in the city of Ramadi and surrounding areas" adding that they are looking to "completely free the city from IS fighters."

Iranian weapons

A source told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Iraqi authorities are looking to import Iranian weapons in their fight against Islamic State fighters.

Talks are taking place between Iraqi and Iranian officials to speed up the delivery of weapons in the region, mainly to be used in Mosul and Anbar, the source said.

However, the source added that disputes are also taking place among Iraqi decision-makers as there are concerns they may lose international coalition if they continue to cooperate militarily with Iran.

The source revealed to al-Araby that the Popular Mobilisation fighters have shown effectiveness in their battle in Tikrit with the use of Iranian weapons, which is what is pushing authorities to finalise talks.

With additional reporting from AFP.