Iraqi officials say a suicide blast targeting security forces and subsequent clashes with Islamic State militants have killed at least 23 troops and allied Sunni fighters in the embattled western Province of Anbar.
The officials say a suicide bomber first struck a gathering of pro-government Sunni fighters near the town of al-Baghdadi on Tuesday morning. The town is about 180 km northwest of Baghdad.
Soon after, Islamic State extremists attacked nearby Army and police positions, setting off clashes.
Police and hospital officials say 23 were killed and 28 were wounded on the government side. They did not say give casualties on the militants’ side.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Islamic State kills 8 for ‘cooperating’ with govt.
Earlier in the day, the Islamic State group said it has killed eight men in Iraq’s Salahuddin Province north of Baghdad for allegedly cooperating with the government security forces and international airstrikes targeting the group.
A collection of photos posted late Monday on a Twitter account frequently used by the militants showed eight bearded men in orange jumpsuits with their hands tied behind their backs. Five were identified as police officers and two as informants, but no information was provided on the eighth victim.
The photos showed the blindfolded men being brought to a riverbank by masked gunmen under what looks like a bridge, then lined up on their knees and shot in the head. The group didn’t mention when the killings took place.
A Provincial official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for his safety, offered a different account; he said Tuesday that the men were Army officers who abandoned the Army before the militants took over parts of the province last year and that they didn’t cooperate with the Iraqi government forces.
The Salahuddin Provincial capital, Tikrit, and other nearby towns have been in militant hands since June when the Islamic State group expanded with lightning speed across Sunni-dominated regions of northern and western Iraq as government forces collapsed.