57 killed in Iraq as US military advisors arrive
Baghdad, June 13 (IANS) Eighty US military advisors reached Iraq’s western province of Anbar on Saturday to train Iraqi forces and Sunni tribal fighters even as suicide car bombings and an airstrike against Islamic State (IS) militants killed at least 57 people across the country, officials and security sources said.
Eid Ammash, a member of Anbar’s provincial council, told reporters that the first batch of 80 US advisors reached the Habbaniyah air base.
“Those advisors will train the security forces and tribal fighters and provide logistical support and military plans to them during the battles for the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah to liberate them from the control of the terrorist organisation Daash (the Arabic acronym for IS),” Ammash said.
Ammash’s comments came three days after the White House announced that President Barack Obama authorised the deployment of up to 450 more American troops to Iraq to train and assist Iraqi forces and Sunni fighters battling the IS terrorist group.
In Iraq’s Salahudin province, three suicide bombers rammed their explosives-laden cars into checkpoints and a military base in Hijaj village in south of the oil refinery town of Baiji, a provincial security source told Xinhua news agency.
The blasts killed nine policemen and members of allied Shia militias, known as Hashd Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation), and wounded at least 20 others, the source said.
Also in the province, Iraqi warplanes pounded two IS vehicles in Seniyah town, west of Baiji, destroying the two vehicles and killing seven IS militants on board, the source added.
Since March 2, dozens of thousands of allied Shia and Sunni militias have been involved in Iraq’s biggest offensive to recapture the northern part of Salahudin province, including Tikrit and other key towns and villages, from IS militants.
Earlier in the day, a security source from Anbar province told Xinhua that dozens of IS militants carried out an attack with four suicide car bombs on a military base north of the IS-held town of Garma, just east of Fallujah, killing 18 soldiers and Hashd Shaabi members.
The attacks also wounded 25 troops and militiamen besides setting fire to at least seven military vehicles, the source said.
Another suicide attack occurred in the day when two suicide bombers detonated their explosives-laden vehicles on military positions in Haiyakil area, just south of Fallujah, killing at least 11 security personnel and Hashd Shaabi militiamen, the source said.
In Fallujah, a booby-trapped car detonated, apparently by mistake, leaving four IS militants dead, the source added.
Also in the province, Iraqi aircraft pounded two IS vehicles in Jubba near the Baghdadi town, killing eight militants and wounding five others, the source said, citing intelligence reports.
The IS group has seized most of Iraq’s largest province of Anbar and tried to advance towards Baghdad, but several counter-attacks by security forces and Shia militias have pushed them back.
The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June last year, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the IS.