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80 Iraqis Killed in Government Forces Attack on City of Samarra

June 5, 2014

Iraqi government soldiers in the City of Samarra, June 5, 2014

Iraqi troops 'repel militant attack on Samarra'

BBC, 5 June 2014 Last updated at 14:44 ET

The assault was stopped when helicopter gunships and special forces personnel arrived in Samarra

Iraqi security forces have repelled a large-scale attack by militants on the central city of Samarra, officials say.

Gunmen travelling in dozens of vehicles attacked checkpoints on the east and west on Thursday morning before taking control of several areas.

The army responded with helicopter strikes in which officials said about 80 insurgents died.

A curfew has been imposed on the city and reinforcements sent from the capital Baghdad.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Sunni militants and tribesmen allied to the jihadist Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have seized parts of the city of Ramadi and most of Falluja.


Witnesses and security sources said dozens of heavily armed militants attacked checkpoints and police stations on the outskirts of Samarra early on Thursday, before moving into the city.

We have completely dismissed the armed groups from Samarra and we are now pursuing them outside the city”

Lt-Gen Sabah al-Fatlawi Samarra Special Operations Command

The assailants seized control of the municipality building and university, raising the black flag associated with jihadist groups over both buildings, police told the Reuters news agency.

They also reportedly occupied Samarra's two largest mosques and announced the "liberation" of the city via loudspeaker, urging residents to join their war against the government.

The militants moved within about 2km (1.2 miles) of the Askari shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, whose destruction by al-Qaeda in 2006 is widely believed to have triggered a continuing spiral of sectarian violence in which tens of thousands have died.

"People are terrified. We haven't slept since the attack started at 03:30 [00:30 GMT]," resident Mustafa al-Sammaraie told Reuters. "I saw some of them pass in front of our house - gunmen with long beards and Afghan dress on a pickup truck."

The advance was eventually halted when helicopter gunships and military reinforcements, including members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism forces, were sent in to attack their positions.

The head of the Samarra Special Operations Command, Lt-Gen Sabah al-Fatlawi, later declared that security forces and pro-government tribesmen had forced the militants to withdraw.

"We have completely dismissed the armed groups from Samarra and we are now pursuing them outside the city," he told the AFP news agency. "We were able to kill 80 [militants] in strikes and attacks and clashes, from house to house and one street to another."

At least 12 security personnel were reportedly also killed.

A member of the Salahuddin provincial council said he was worried that the militants would now seek to gain control of other towns and cities, amid reports of clashes in Suleiman Beg and a curfew in Baiji.

In other violence on Thursday, bombings in Baghdad left three people dead, while four others were shot dead in the northern city of Mosul, security and medical officials said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also said a team had delivered medical supplies to Falluja for the first time since January, when ISIS and its allies moved in.

"The situation is very worrying," said Patricia Guiote, leader of the team. "People are enduring a severe shortage of food, water and healthcare."

80 killed in Iraq as security forces re-take city of Samarra   2014-06-05 23:46:47

BAGHDAD, June 5, 2014 (Xinhua) --

A total of 80 people were killed and some 88 wounded in separate attacks in Iraq on Thursday as Iraqi security forces re-took control of the city of Samarra in Salahudin province which was seized by extremist Sunni insurgents early in the morning, security and medical source said.

The troops carried out a major offensive and after fierce clashes they managed to regain six neighborhood in Samarra, some 120 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, which were seized earlier by groups of gunmen believed to be linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq, a source from Salahudin provincial police told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

In the early morning hours, dozens of insurgents entered the city on their vehicles, some with heavy machine-guns, and attacked the security checkpoints and police stations, killing up to nine policemen and wounding some 45 people, the source said.

Some of the militants attacked the house of Abdul-Karim al- Samarraie, Minister of Sciences and Technology, and killed three of his guards before they leave the house which was empty during the attack, the source added.

Major General Sabah al-Fatlawi, Commander of Samarra Operation Command, told Xinhua that his troops and helicopters have killed 11 militants and destroyed more than eight vehicles during the morning battles, and that reinforcement troops still arriving from Baghdad and other provinces to defeat the gunmen.

The gunmen raised their black flag belonging to the ISIL on several government buildings and the main Sunni mosque in the city, and announced the "liberation" of the city by loudspeakers, urging the residents to join their jihad (holy war) against the Shiite government.

The insurgents were located in neighborhoods just 1,500 meters away from the Shiite shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi in central the city. The shrine contains the tombs of Ali al-Hadi, who died in A. D. 868 and his son Hassan al- Askari who died in A.D. 874 .

The two are the 10th and 11th of the Shiite's 12 most revered Imams. Shiite pilgrims visited the shrine from all over the world.

Iraqi security forces surrounded the Shiite shrine as well as the security headquarters of Samarra's Operations Command to prevent the insurgent from reaching such sensitive targets and are waiting for reinforcement troops to prepare for a counter-attack.

On Feb. 22, 2006, Samarra's shrine, which was also called the Golden Mosque, was hit by a bomb attack in which its 100-year-old Golden Dome was badly damaged.

In 2007, insurgents again bombed the two minarets of the shrine. The attacks sparked reprisal killings between Shiite and Sunni communities that claimed lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

The major attack by insurgents in Samarra prompted authorities in the volatile province of Nineveh and its capital Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, to tighten security measures and imposed curfew in the city, while security forces backed helicopter gunships carried out preemptive strikes against suspected insurgent positions of ISIL militant group and clashed with gunmen in Ayn al-Jahash area in south of Mosul, Mohammed Ibrahim, head of security committee of the provincial council, told Xinhua.

The offensive in Nineveh resulted in the killing of some 40 militants and the destroying of 12 of their vehicles, Ibrahim said.

Also in the day, a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden car into a police checkpoint in western the city of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, leaving a police officer killed and four policemen wounded, a source from Salahudin Operations Command told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, groups of gunmen attacked several army checkpoints in Baiji and killed two soldiers and wounded five others, the source said.

In Anbar province, airstrikes, artillery and mortar shelling struck several neighborhoods in the militant-seized city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, continued from midnight until Thursday morning and left eight people killed and nine others wounded, a medical source from the city hospital told Xinhua.

Elsewhere, three mortar rounds landed on the local government building in the town of Tarmiyah, some 40 km north of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding six others, a police source told Xinhua.

Two employees and a policeman were among the wounded by the mortar barrage, which also damaged parts of the building, the source said.

In a separate incident, a roadside bomb went off near an army patrol on a main road near Tarmiyah, destroyed a military vehicle and leaving a soldier killed and three others injured, the source added.

Separately, a car bomb detonated at the wholesale market of Jamilah in the Shiite bastion of Sadr City district in eastern Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding ten others, along with damaging several nearby shops and buildings, a police source said.

In another incident, a civilian was killed and six others were wounded when a roadside bomb ripped through the city of Mahmoudiyah, some 30 km south of Baghdad, a local police source said.

Iraq is witnessing some of its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, the highest annual death toll in years.

Editor: Mu Xuequan


Iraqi government forces dislodge insurgents from city of Samarra with airstrikes

By Ghazwan Hassan

TIKRIT Iraq Thu Jun 5, 2014 11:18am EDT

(Reuters) -

Iraqi helicopters bombed the city of Samarra after insurgents overran parts of it early on Thursday, bringing them within striking distance of a Shi'ite shrine the destruction of which in a 2006 attack unleashed a bitter sectarian war.

The offensive is part of an escalating conflict between Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim-led government and Sunni Islamist militants who have been regaining momentum in the past year, particularly in the west of the country bordering Syria.

The Iraqi army and SWAT forces had regained control in Samarra, killing dozens of insurgents and forcing the rest to retreat from the city after they moved in overnight, the Samarra Operations Command said.

Militants advanced on Samarra in pick-up trucks, raiding checkpoints along the way and blowing up a police station in an attack that killed several policemen, security sources said.

After entering the city from the east and west, they seized control of the municipality building and university, raising the black flag of the Sunni militant 'Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) over both buildings, police said.

They also occupied Samarra's two largest mosques and announced the "liberation" of the city via loudspeaker, urging residents to join their jihad (holy war) against the government.

Officials said the militants had come within about two kilometers of the Askari shrine, whose destruction by insurgents in 2006 set off the worst bout of Sunni-Shi'ite violence to follow the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

"People are terrified. We haven't slept since the attack started at 3:30 am," resident Mustafa al-Sammaraie told Reuters. "I saw some of them pass in front of our house: some gunmen with long beards and Afghan dress on a pickup truck."


A curfew has been imposed on the city and reinforcements were sent up from Baghdad, arriving shortly after noon on Thursday.

Police and medical sources said 12 policemen had been killed. There were also civilians among the dead, but the exact number was still unclear.

A security officer in Salahuddin Operations Command described the situation in the city as very dangerous and said the rebels, armed with RPGs and snipers, were targeting command centers near the Askari shrine, which is protected by three security belts.

In January, Sunni Islamist insurgents overran two cities in the western province of Anbar, which borders the region of Salahuddin where Samarra is located.

"The security situation is so fragile now in Salahuddin and we don't rule out that the insurgents will expand further," said provincial council member Sabhan Mulla Chiad. "I am not optimistic at all."

A curfew was also declared in Baiji, around 100 km northwest from Samarra, in anticipation of a further advance by the insurgents, while clashes erupted in the town of Sulaiman Beg, which was briefly overrun by militants earlier this year.

Chiad said that even if the Iraqi army succeeded in re-taking Samarra, the insurgents would simply pull back to the outskirts, and other parts of Salahuddin would remain under threat.

In March, gunmen dressed in military uniform broke into Samarra city council and court house, holding the facility for four hours until police and army regained control.

(Additional reporting by Isra al-Rubei'i and Raheem Salman; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

17 killed, 53 wounded in bomb attacks across Iraq

BAGHDAD, June 4 (Xinhua) --

A total of 17 people were killed and some 53 others wounded in separate bomb attacks across Iraq, including an overnight suicide bombing, police said on Wednesday.

One of the attacks took place in northern Iraq when two car bomb explosions at noon struck the city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, leaving eight people killed, among them two women and two children, and 14 others injured, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The ethnically-mixed province of Kirkuk and its capital city Kirkuk are part of the disputed areas between the Kurds and both Arabs and Turkomans. The Kurds want to incorporate the areas on the edge of their Kurdistan region, but their move is fiercely opposed by Baghdad government.

In Iraq's Salahudin province, a police officer and a policeman were killed and three other officers wounded when a bomb detonated near convoy while they were on a tour to check the security measures in a secondary school in the provincial capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, a provincial police source said.

Some 20 students, who were doing the final examinations for their secondary school, were also wounded by the blast which smashed the windows of several classes in the building, the source said.

Also in the province, two policemen were killed and six others wounded when a booby-trapped car detonated near a passing police patrol outside the city of Sulaiman Beg, some 90 km east of Tikrit, the source added.

Separately, three people were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded at a thoroughfare in Mansour district in the western part of Baghdad, a police source said.

Earlier in the day, a police source from Iraq's western province of Anbar told Xinhua that an overnight suicide bomb attack killed one of top leaders of the Iraqi government-backed Sahwa paramilitary groups, three security officers and one bodyguard, along with wounding seven security members.

The attack occurred late on Tuesday night when a suicide bomber hugged Mohammed Khamis Abu Risha and blew up his explosive vest among a crowd of Sahwa leaders and senior security officers, who were on tour at a residential area in the western part of the provincial capital Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, the source said.

The Sahwa militia, also known as the Awakening Council or the Sons of Iraq, consists of some Sunni armed groups, who previously were part of powerful anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups after the U. S.-led invasion to Iraq in 2003.

Most of those groups had turned their rifles against the al- Qaida network and cooperated with the U.S. troops after al- Qaida adopted hardline Islam and exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

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