Iraq forces attack militants as 14 bodies found
Baghdad: Iraqi forces attacked a militant stronghold in crisis-hit Anbar province on Thursday, while authorities found 14 bullet-riddled bodies in scenes harkening back to the worst of Iraq`s sectarian war.
The latest unrest, a day after nationwide attacks killed 73 people and gunmen made key territorial gains in Anbar, comes amid fears the country is sliding back into the worst of the brutal Sunni-Shiite conflict which left tens of thousands dead in 2006 and 2007.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon and other diplomats have urged Baghdad to pursue political reconciliation with the disaffected Sunni minority to end the weeks-long standoff in Anbar and the months-long surge in violence, Iraq`s worst since 2008.
But with parliamentary elections looming in April, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ruled out dialogue with fighters who control parts of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi and all of Fallujah, which lies on Baghdad`s doorstep.
Early today, around 3,000 security personnel, comprised of units from the elite Golden Brigade linked to Maliki`s office, and the interior ministry`s Rapid Intervention Force, attacked an alleged militant camp in Albubali, an area comprising villages and rural farmland between Ramadi and Fallujah.
They were backed by tanks and aircraft, according to a senior police officer and a policeman.
"The main target is to take control of this area (Albubali)," the officer said.
They also aimed to recover the bodies of eight members of the security forces -- four of whom have been missing for several days and have since been confirmed dead, and four others who were killed when a booby-trapped house collapsed on them.
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