BAGHDAD — A series of suicide attacks by the Islamic State group outside a town in Anbar province west of Baghdad on Tuesday killed 12 soldiers and allied Sunni militiamen, military and hospital officials said.
They said the attack began when IS militants shelled army and militia positions outside the town of Haditha with mortars. They followed up with two suicide bombers who blew themselves up near the troops and later with three suicide car bombings. Five soldiers and three Sunni tribesmen were wounded in the attacks, said the officials.
Airstrikes by the U.S.-led alliance destroyed six IS vehicles and killed 13 militants as they approached the site, where heavy clashes ensued between the militants and the government forces, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Much of the vast and predominantly Sunni Anbar province is under IS control, including the provincial capital Ramadi and the key city of Fallujah. Haditha, on the Euphrates river and home to a major dam, is in government hands. The Islamic State group, which controls most of northern and western Iraq, has repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to seize the town.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said on Tuesday that a total of 1,325 Iraqis were killed and another 1,811 were injured in violence during the month of August. Of those killed, 585 were civilians, it said. Baghdad province, which includes the capital and its outlying districts, was the worst affected part of the country, with 318 killed and 751 injured, said the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq in a monthly report.
The figures for civilian casualties in August were sharply down from the previous month, when 844 were killed, and the lowest since April.
A further 488 members of Iraq's security forces, including Kurdish peshmerga fighters, interior ministry's SWAT forces and tribal militiamen, were killed and another 492 were injured in August. The figures don't include casualties in Anbar province, where intense fighting with the IS militants has raged for close to two years.