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Fighting Between Iraqi Forces, Militants Kills 34

  • VOA News

Tribal fighters aligned with government forces are seen patrolling the streets in the city of Falluja, 50 km west of Baghdad Jan. 5, 2014.

Tribal fighters aligned with government forces are seen patrolling the streets in the city of Falluja, 50 km west of Baghdad Jan. 5, 2014.

Fighting between Iraqi forces and al-Qaida-linked militants who seized control of two western cities has killed at least 34 people and wounded 58.

Iraqi officials say government forces launched an air strike on Ramadi Sunday. But residents say it has been quiet since late Saturday in Fallujah.

Pro-Sunni and pro-al-Qaida militants took over both cities last week. They have been fending off government forces and allied tribal fighters, including some Sunnis who oppose the militants.

Lieutenant General Rasheed Fleih, who leads the Anbar Military Command, says it will take a few days for government forces to retake the two cities.

Also Sunday, separate car bombs killed at least 19 people in Baghdad.

Violence between Iraq's Shi'ite-led government and the Sunni minority has killed thousands over the last year.

Sunnis accuse the government of ignoring their needs and marginalizing them politically. Iraqi official accuse the Sunnis of involvement in terrorism.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the United States will provide assistance to Iraqi forces in their battle against the pro-al-Qaida militants, but, in a reference to the Iraqi government, stressed that it is "their fight."

Kerry said there are no plans of sending U.S. ground troops back into Iraq.

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