Iraq

Iraq forces retake control of key areas in Baghdad

348348_Iraq-forcesOfficials say Iraqi forces have retaken control of key areas in west Baghdad from militants amid a deadly standoff between militants and security forces.

Iraqi security forces have taken control of Albu Farraj, said defence ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari on Wednesday, referring to an area just north of the Anbar Province’s capital Ramadi.

“We will give it back to the tribes and police forces to return the area to normal,” he said.

Officials said Iraqi forces also took back al-Nasaf, another city in the province, located on the western outskirts of Fallujah.

The violence in Anbar broke out on December 30, 2013, when the army removed an anti-government protest camp in Ramadi. Authorities said the camp was used as “headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on the violence-hit province’s residents to “take a stand” against anti-government militants.

He has blamed “diabolical” and “treacherous” Arab countries for the recent rise in violence in his country, saying, “Iraq is the target for some countries that are backing terrorism, and backing evil.”

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