Iraqi forces turn back ISIS attack in Anbar
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Iraqi troops stood firm Saturday and turned back two assaults from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), officials say.
Military sources said government forces and Shiite militiamen skirmished with ISIS over two towns in Anbar province, according to the Associated Press.
The first battle took place in Husseiba, a government-held settlement in Anbar.
ISIS began with heavy mortar strikes early Saturday morning and then launched a push with its ground forces, AP reported.
After a fight lasting several hours, ISIS retreated after failing to take Husseiba from Iraqi forces.
AP said the battle left 10 Iraqi troops wounded. ISIS, meanwhile, lost five men and three vehicles in the encounter.
ISIS lost Husseiba during fighting last month. The hotly contested town is crucial, it said, given its proximity to the provincial capital of Ramadi.
Government officials also told AP a second fight took place Saturday over Anbar’s Tharthar area.
Iraqi forces repelled that attack by using anti-tank missiles.
ISIS rushed their forces with four suicide car bombs before getting turned back.
Iraq’s two victories Saturday follows a major setback against ISIS last month.
The terrorist group stunned the world by conquering Ramadi on May 17 after prolonged combat.
The Obama administration and Iraqi leadership have since verbally sparred over which side is ultimately responsible for the city’s fall.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said May 24 that Iraqi forces were culpable for losing Ramadi.
“What happened at Ramadi is the failure of Iraqi forces to fight,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Our efforts now are devoted to providing their ground forces with the equipment, the training, to try and encourage their will to fight so that our campaign to enable them can be successful.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi responded the next day, saying he was “surprised” by Carter’s comments.
“I am sure he was fed with the wrong information,” al-Abadi told the BBC.
President Obama will meet with al-Abadi during this weekend’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Germany.
The pair plans on discussing “the situation on the ground and our efforts to support the Iraqi security forces,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Thursday.