Baghdad: At least 117 militants, including 111 alone in a western Iraqi province, were killed in series of clashes between security forces and Sunni militant groups as government tries to wrestle back rebel-held areas, security sources said.
In Anbar province in Western Iraq, the security forces clashed with the Sunni militants, mostly from Islamic State (IS), formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), in several areas across the province, killing 111 militants and destroying 11 vehicles, Xinhua reported citing military spokesman Qasim Atta as saying in Baghdad Tuesday.
"The troops carried out pre-emptive attacks against militants` posts in the towns of Garma, Saqlawiyah, Tharthar, al-Sicher and other areas near the city of Fallujah in Anbar province" Atta stated.
The army forces seized four villages in clashes with the Islamic State (IS), just north of the Salahudin province`s capital Tikrit, a provincial police source said.
The villages have strategic importance for the army as they are adjacent to the Camp Speicher military air base in north of Tikrit, which was previously used by the US forces.
The villages can also be used as a launch pad in attempts to retake control of Tikrit, 170 km north of capital Baghdad, the source said.
In addition, the troops in its bid to retake control of Baiji city, 200 km north of Baghdad, have moved to take new positions, Atta said.
Earlier, the forces were entrenching in strategically located Baiji oil refinery near Baiji.
Furthermore, many clashes were witnessed in several areas in Iraq`s eastern province of Diyala.
According to Atta, six militants were killed in clashes near the battlefield city of Maqdadiyah
The troops continued to clear the Jurf al-Sakhar area in Babil province situated in the central part of the country.
The sectarian mixed province of Babil, known as the "Triangle of Death", has been part of latest Sunni insurgency against the Shiite-led central Iraqi government.
The crisis in Iraq has taken a turn for the worse since June 10, when Sunni militant groups took control of Mosul, the second largest city, and then progressed to other areas in the north and centre of the country.
The IS June 29 proclaimed an Islamic caliphate extending from the Syrian province of Aleppo to Diyala in Iraq, a measure which was rejected by other rebel groups in both countries.