Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that he will ask for more support from the US during his visit to Washington to fight the Islamic State (IS) terorist group.
“During our visit to the United States, we look forward to the development of our bilateral relations in accordance with the strategic framework agreement that would ensure our national sovereignty and common interests of the two countries,” Abadi told reporters at Baghdad airport as he boarded a flight to Washington in his first official visit to the US as prime minister.
“We face two basic battles to cleanse Anbar and Mosul (from IS militants), and we need more support and backing,” Abadi said.
Earlier in the day, Abadi’s office said the prime minister sacked more than 300 army officers as part of his efforts to enhance security capabilities while the country was fighting the IS militant group.
The Iraqi security forces on Monday repelled attacks of the IS militants in the country’s provinces of Salahudin and Anbar, while clashes and bomb attacks continued across the country, an official and security sources said.
In Salahudin province, the security forces backed by US-led coalition and Iraqi aircraft repelled an attack by the IS militants on Iraq’s largest refinery near the town of Baiji, some 200 km north of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, after two days of fierce clashes, Jasim Jbara, head of the security committee of Salahudin’s provincial council told Xinhua news agency over telephone.
At least 20 militants were killed and five of their vehicles were destroyed in the battles, while five security members were also killed by the clashes, Jbara added.
“The situation is under control by the security forces despite the fact that the refinery is now surrounded by the extremist militants, as the security forces in the refinery are capable of defending their positions until breaking the siege,” Jbara said.
Separately, the IS militants attacked an army convoy in Is’haqi area, some 100 km north of Baghdad, and killed two officers and two soldiers, while two other soldiers were wounded, a provincial security source told Xinhua.
In Anbar province, the security forces and allied Sunni paramilitary tribesmen clashed with the IS militants and repelled their attack on al-Malaab street in the centre of the provincial capital Ramadi and al-Tamim district in the western part of the city.
The battles resulted in the deaths of seven IS militants and two local policemen and the wounding of five security members, the source said.
Later in the day, the US-led coalition warplanes carried out airstrikes on the IS positions in the same battlefields, leaving dozens of IS militants dead and six of their vehicles destroyed, a source said.
In Baghdad, a booby-trapped car went off in al-Baiyaa district in the southern part of the capital, leaving two people dead and 38 others wounded, an interior ministry source told Xinhua.
The security situation in Iraq drastically deteriorated since June last year, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the IS.