Islamic State fighters seized two towns in western Iraq, after besieging hundreds of soldiers, according to a regional official.
The militant group has captured Albu Etha and al-Hamdhiya, Faleh al-Issawi, deputy head of Anbar provincial council, said by phone today. He said some Iraqi troops were killed and others deserted their posts, without giving details.
Earlier the head of the Anbar council, Sabah Karhout, had said that at least two battalions of the Iraqi army, or 260 men, were trapped near Albu Etha, and that efforts were being made to send reinforcements and enable them to break the siege.
The clashes are taking place in a region where U.S.-led airstrikes are seeking to roll back the insurgents’ advance. Karhout and al-Issawi said that Islamic State controls at least half of the city of Ramadi, the provincial capital, though they said that elsewhere in Anbar the airstrikes have enabled security forces to recapture territory.
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