Iraqi Troops Fight al-Qaeda, Leaving 34 Dead

In Syria, opposition fighters battle rebels linked to extremists
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 5, 2014 4:08 PM CST
The Prophet Muhammad Mosque looks over a burned police vehicle left in the main street of Fallujah after clashes between Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda fighters, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.   (Uncredited)
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(Newser) – The Iraqi military tried to dislodge al-Qaeda militants in Sunni-dominated Anbar province today, unleashing airstrikes and besieging the regional capital in fighting that killed at least 34 people, officials said. A series of bombs in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, meanwhile, killed at least 20 people. The recent gains by the insurgents have been a blow to the Shiite-led government—as sectarian violence has escalated since the US withdrawal. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was "very, very concerned" by the fighting but would not send in American troops. Click for more.

In Syria, opposition fighters battled rival rebels from an al-Qaeda-linked faction across parts of northern Syria today, as deep fissures within the insurgency erupted into some of the most serious and sustained violence between groups opposed to President Bashar Assad since the country's conflict began. The clashes, which broke out on Friday and have spread to parts of four provinces, pit an array of moderate and ultraconservative Islamist brigades against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an extremist group that has become both feared and resented in parts of opposition-held areas for trying to impose its hardline interpretation of Islam. Click for more. (Read more Iraq stories.)

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