Iraqi forces battle to retake cities from al Qaeda militants

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Fierce fighting continues to rage in two cities in Western Iraq as al Qaeda-inspired militants and government-backed militia battle it out for control.

In Ramadi, dozens of jihadists were reportedly killed on Friday.

Falluja, the other major city in Iraq’s Anbar region also witnessed heavy fighting.

Footage released on Thursday by Baghdad showed Iraqi government warplanes carrying out several air strikes against gunmen suspected of being Sunni insurgents.

A large part of the turmoil in Iraq’s Western province is being blamed on the war in Syria which is said to be feeding the instability.

Earlier this week the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki struck a deal with local Sunni-based tribes in Iraq’s Anbar region in a bid to oust the militants who are seeking to create an Islamic state.