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Islamic State kills 16 Iraqi soldiers on Syrian border

An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter fires at Islamic-State (IS) militant positions

An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter fires at Islamic-State (IS) militant positions

BAGHDAD: Islamic State fighters killed 16 Iraqi soldiers in an attack on a western border crossing with Syria yesterday, the head of the local provincial council Faleh Al-Issawi said. He said four other Iraqi soldiers were wounded in the attack on the Al-Waleed border crossing and were taken across the border for treatment in Syria. A tribal leader in the Islamic State-controlled town of Rutba, 80 miles southeast of Al-Waleed, said the fighters seized guns and vehicles and brought them back to Rutba, firing guns in celebration as they arrived.

The border crossing and the town of Rutba are both in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a Sunni Muslim region where Islamic State had a strong presence even before it swept through Mosul and much of northern Iraq towards Baghdad in June. While they have lost some ground in other parts of the country, Islamic State fighters have sought to maintain momentum in Anbar, attacking the centre of the provincial capital Ramadi last week. A month ago they killed hundreds of members of the Albu Nimr tribe, which had opposed them in the province.

24 commanders dismissed
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has dismissed 24 senior interior ministry officers, a statement from his office said yesterday. It did not provide a specific explanation for their dismissal, but Abadi has been sacking and retiring a raft of top security officials since he took office three months ago. "New officers were appointed as part of the drive to reform the security apparatus... and improve its efficiency in confronting terrorism," the statement said. The latest announcement came a day after he announced that a graft probe had uncovered the existence of 50,000 "ghost soldiers" on the army's payroll.

His spokesman said that the drive to curb corruption which observers said reached unprecedented heights under his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki would spread to all state institutions. Abadi has already fired or retired several generals who were seen as responsible for the armed forces' abysmal performance when the Islamic State group swept through swathes of Iraq in June. He also dismantled the office of the commander in chief, an extra-constitutional body which Maliki had set up to retain effective control over the interior and defence ministries.- Agencies

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This article was published on 01/12/2014