2 Iraqi police killed in anti-ISIL stronghold
HABBANIYAH, Iraq - Agence France-PresseMilitants killed two police yeserday in Haditha in a rare attack inside a town west of Baghdad that tribesmen and security forces successfully defended against repeated jihadist assaults, officials said.
When the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized swathes of territory in Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq, Haditha was one of the largest Sunni Arab population centers in the country not to fall to the jihadists.
Khalid Salman, the head of the Haditha council, said three militants infiltrated the town and clashed with security forces and tribesmen, killing two police. The attackers were later surrounded in a house and killed, Salman said.
A police first lieutenant gave the same death toll but said the two police were killed when one of the attackers blew himself up.
The officer put the total number of militants involved at four, and said the remainder were killed by security forces.
ISIL seized large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led air strikes have since regained significant ground from the jihadists.
Iraqi forces recaptured the Anbari cities of Ramadi and Fallujah from ISIL, and are now nearly seven months into a massive operation to retake Mosul in the country’s north.
But the fall of Mosul will not mean the complete defeat of ISIL in Iraq: The group still holds territory west of the city as well as in Anbar, where it is carrying out deadly attacks targeting security forces.