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Iran Press TV

Iraqi forces retake control of Sulaiman Bek from ISIL

Iran Press TV

Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:48PM GMT

Iraqi security forces have retaken the northern town of Sulaiman Bek from al-Qaeda-linked militants after days of heavy fighting in the area, an official said.

Local official, Talib al-Bayati, said on Saturday that the town 'has now been completely liberated and there are no longer any gunmen, just police and soldiers.'

Militants loyal to the al-Qaeda group, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), seized parts of the town on February 13, sparking clashes in the area.

Dozens of people, including security forces, civilians and militants, were killed in the fighting.

Bayati also stated that the army began reinforcing the area with watchtowers and sand barriers.

Meanwhile, Iraq Defense Ministry announced a 72-hour ceasefire in the militant-held city of Fallujah in the Anbar Province.

'Military operations taken against selected terrorist organization targets in Fallujah have been stopped for a period of 72 hours' starting from the night before, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The move raises the possibility of negotiations to end the crisis, during which militants have also taken the control of parts of the city of Ramadi.

Iraqi troops backed by local Sunni tribesmen are fighting al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in the Anbar Province.

Violence erupted in Anbar last December when security forces cleared a protest camp in Ramadi. Iraqi authorities said the camp had been used as "headquarters for the leadership of al-Qaeda."

The bloodshed later spread to Fallujah and militants moved in and seized the city and parts of Ramadi.

According to the United Nations, over 370,000 people may have been displaced by the deadly violence in Anbar.

SAB/AB/SS



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