BAGHDAD (AP) – Iraqi soldiers, backed by Sunni fighters, launched a major operation Saturday to retake a section of the city of Ramadi seized by Islamic State group militants, an official and residents said.
The fighting focused on Ramadi’s eastern Sijariya neighbourhood, which the extremist group said it captured the area Friday.
An official with the Anbar provincial council described intense fighting there Saturday morning that included both sides firing mortars.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief journalists.
Eyewitnesses there, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, corroborated his account.
The Islamic State group has been trying to seize Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, for months now. Sunni militants including the group’s fighters seized parts of it last January.
The Anbar official also said Islamic State fighters lined up and shot several men Friday from the al-Bu Fahd tribe, which is taking part in the fight against the militant group.
Islamic State group fighters have killed more than 200 men, women and children from Anbar’s Sunni Al Bu Nimr tribe in recent weeks, apparently in revenge for the tribe’s siding with Iraqi security forces and, in the past, with US forces.