By HEATHER SAUL – The Independent –
Isis militants seized control of parts of the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, close to an air base where 320 US Marines are training Iraqi soldiers.
The town is northwest of Ramadi, in Anbar province, and has been under attack from the insurgents for months.
Much of the province was attacked by Isis during its bloody advance through Iraq and Syria, and now ninety per cent of the district has now been captured by fighters, a local official told Reuters. Fox News reports that this is significant because of its proximity to the Al Asad air base holding hundreds of US Marines training members of the Iraqi 7th Division – the town is just a 13 minute drive away.
A Pentagon spokeswoman navy commander confirmed heavy fighting in al-Baghdadi, but stressed there had been no direct attack on the air base. However, she said there was reports of “ineffective indirect fire in the vicinity of the base”.
The death toll from fighting is not yet known. The heavily fortified air base has reportedly been attacked by mortar fire once previously since December.
Militants attacked al-Baghdadi from two directions earlier in the day and then advanced on the town, intelligence sources and officials in the Jazeera and Badiya operations commands told Reuters.
Five civilians were also killed in bomb attacks in two towns south of Baghdad.