BAGHDAD, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Sunni tribal fighters repulsed Sunni extremist militants from villages in Salahudin province on Monday, as Iraqi security forces continued to battle insurgent groups across the country, security sources said.
In the Salahudin province, armed tribesmen and local Sunnis clashed with members of the Islamic State (IS), an extremist Sunni militant group and an offshoot of al-Qaida, in the two villages of al-Zuiyah and al-Meshag, driving the IS militants from the villages, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The clashes erupted when IS militants tried to seize vehicles from tribal villagers, but the tribesmen resisted, sparking the battle, the source said.
Soon afterwards, the IS militants, backed by vehicles with heavy machine guns and mortars, tried to retake control of the two villages but were again repelled by the tribesmen and their allied Sunni militants, leaving 13 IS militants dead and some 35 others wounded, the source said.
Three of the towns' defenders were killed and ten others wounded in the battle, the source added.
A military spokesman told reporters in Baghdad that army helicopter gunships supported the villagers and stroke 15 vehicles loaded with IS fighters.
Separately, Salahudin Operations Command said that its forces foiled an attack by militant groups on a military air base north of the provincial capital city of Tikrit, which was previously used by the U.S. forces and known as Camp Speicher. The base is still under the control of Iraqi troops.
Also in the province, militant groups clashed with police forces in the town of Ishaqi, leaving four policemen dead, the source said without giving further details.
Troops killed some 25 suspected militants, including some reportedly wearing explosive vests, and destroyed eight of their vehicles, the command said in a statement.
In Anbar province, mortar barrages killed Major General Najim Abdullah, commander of the army's sixth division, while he was on a tour with security forces near the town of Garma, an Interior Ministry spokesman told a news conference in Baghdad, adding that a total of 60 "terrorists" were killed during the past seven days in northern and southern edges of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, a security source from Anbar province told Xinhua that a separate mortar barrage in Ibrahim Bin Ali area near Garma killed three soldiers and wounded seven others.
Iraqi security forces have been struggling for the past months to retake control of the militant-seized city of Fallujah, as well as the town of Garma and parts of Anbar provincial capital city of Ramadi.
In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, clashes erupted in Himreen mountains area between security forces and Sunni militants, killing two security members and two gunmen, a provincial police source said.
Two more militants were killed in a bomb blast after they unintentionally detonated the explosive too early in the city of Saadiyah in northeast of the provincial capital Baquba, the source added.
In a separate incident, a tribal leader was killed and two of his sons wounded when unidentified gunmen attacked their car in Saadiyah, the source said, adding that IS militants shot dead a member of a government-backed paramilitary group, known as Sahwa, at a security checkpoint in the city of Maqdadiyah.
In Baghdad, a suicide bomber rammed a car filled with explosives into a security checkpoint, blowing it up in Kadhmiyah district in the north of the capital, leaving at least three people dead and 10 others wounded, a police source said.
Iraq has been witnessing some of the worst violence in years. About three weeks earlier, armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by the ISIL, launched a surprise offensive on Iraqi security forces. The group captured a large part of the country's northern and western territories after Iraqi troops abandoned their posts and military equipment.