September 24, 2013 / 12:32 PM / 6 years ago

Militants kill nine policemen in bomb and rocket assault in Iraq

RAMADI, Iraq (Reuters) - Militants launched a coordinated assault against police and military sites with car bombs, rockets and machine guns in western Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least nine policemen, police and medical sources said.

The attack, which took place in Anbar province, began with a barrage of rocket fire on a military headquarters in the town of Haditha.

Meanwhile, militants in a convoy of seven vehicles, two of which were car bombs, gunned down six policemen at a checkpoint before making their way towards a police station inside the town.

The two car bombs were blown up at the gate to the police station, killing three policemen.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The predominantly Sunni province of Anbar shares a long border with Syria and is a stronghold for al Qaeda, which has been regaining ground this year.

Sunni insurgents have been crossing into Syria from Iraq to join ranks with rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect derives from Shi’ite Islam.

Earlier this year, al Qaeda’s Iraqi wing merged with its Syrian counterpart to form the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on both sides of the border.

In a separate incident, a military helicopter was crashed two Iraqi soldiers and three militants were killed during clashes in the Himreen basin northeast of Baghdad, where Iraqi army units were launching a big operation, military sources said.

Reporting by Kamal Naama in Ramadi, Reuters reporter in Baquba; Writing by Suadad al-Salhy; Editing by Alison Williams

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