ISIS militants seized areas around Ramadi, west of Baghdad, on Wednesday in an apparent attempt at a diversion from offensives on the terrorist group’s last Iraqi footholds but were swiftly defeated, security sources said.
The infiltrators briefly occupied three areas near the city, which is the capital of Anbar province, long a bastion of insurgency, the sources said.
But after several hours of heavy fighting in which militants used suicide car bombs, mortars and machine guns, all three areas were retaken.
“The security forces and the tribes retook control of the Al-Tash, Majr and Kilometre Seven districts,” provincial police chief Major General Hadi Razij Kassar told reporters.
“All the ISIS members were killed,” he added.
The operation was likely to have been an attempt to divert the security forces from an offensive they launched last week against the terrorist organization’s last two footholds in Iraq, one of them a series of towns further up the Euphrates Valley from Ramadi.
A general who asked not to be identified told AFP government forces had killed 20 militants.
A military source in Ramadi hospital said two security personnel were killed and 18 civilians wounded.
But Reuters said that according to a preliminary toll from security sources, at least 7 soldiers were dead and 16 wounded.
“A curfew has been imposed on the city of Ramadi and its surroundings to prevent any security breaches,” the general said.
Troops and paramilitaries retook full control of Ramadi from ISIS in February 2016 but are still battling to clear the militants from elsewhere in Anbar province.
Last week saw the launch of twin offensives against the terrorist group in the Euphrates Valley near the Syrian border and around the northern town of Hawija.