BAGHDAD, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces and allied tribal militias on Sunday launched a major offensive against militant groups in the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's western province of Anbar, the government said.
"The troops of Anbar Operations Command in cooperation with the police imposed indefinite curfew starting from Sunday noon at 12: 00 p.m. to clear all the areas in Ramadi from Daish," Anbar's provincial command said in a statement.
It said the troops will clear and search all the houses and other buildings in Ramadi, some 110 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, looking for al-Qaida "sleeping cells which pose greater danger than those elements on the ground."
The defense ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told the state-run Iraqiya television that "the Iraqi army started a large operation with helicopter cover against Daish and terrorists in Ramadi."
Meanwhile, battles of the Iraqi troops backed by tribesmen against the gunmen continued near the town of Khaldiyah, some 30 km east of Ramadi, when the army helicopter gunships attacked gunmen positions in the areas of al-Jazira and Albu-Bali near Khaldiyah, the source said without giving details about casualties.
The helicopters also attacked gunmen positions at the areas of Zouba and Naimiyah in southeast of the restive city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, the source said without giving further details.
In Fallujah, the Iraqi army artillery and mortar pounded positions allegedly for militants linked to al-Qaida in several neighborhoods in the southern and eastern parts of the city, the source added.
The shelling on Fallujah caused severe damages to many houses with no human casualties as most of the residents left their homes during the past few days to safer places in other cities and towns in the province, the source said.
Also on Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to continue fighting the terrorism in the country, hailing the world support for his government to fight the terrorist groups.
"Our battle in the first place is to defeat and eradicate terrorists, although we welcome any solution, any proposal and any political meeting that must ensure the priority of destroying terrorism, al-Qaida, its formations and its allies," Maliki said in his speech in the city of Nasiriyah, some 375 km south of Baghdad.
"The world has united with us. The UN Security Council, the European Union and most of the Arab states, except for some diabolical states," Maliki said without naming those countries.
Anbar province has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December last year.
The Sunnis have been carrying out a year-long protest, accusing the Shiite-led government of marginalizing them and its Shiite- dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their sons.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Saturday discussed increasing cooperation in the ongoing fight against resurgent al-Qaida militants in the Arab nation.
In a phone conversation, the third time this month, the pair discussed U.S. support in battling the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), commonly known as al-Qaida in Iraq, the White House said in a statement. Full story