Iraqi forces recapture key Ramadi bridge

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces recaptured a key bridge from militants of the self-styled Islamic State in the capital of Anbar province on Friday, said an Iraqi security official, as the country`s top Shia cleric renewed calls for national unity among political rivals in the face of the militant threat.

Police colonel Mahdi Abbas said Iraqi security forces recaptured the al Houz bridge over the Euphrates river after fierce clashes with IS militants in western Ramadi.

Abbas said the bridge was controlled by the IS group for several months and served as a primary sup-ply route for the insurgents.

The security situation in Ramadi sharply deteriorated after the IS group seized three villages around the city, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

In recent days Iraqi soldiers and police have been able to secure the centre of Ramadi and push the militants back from some areas of the city.

Meanwhile, Iraq`s most revered Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, on Friday urged the country`s politicians to end all disputes in order to confront the political, economic and security challenges facing the country.

`It is important that the brothers (the politicians) should come out with Enaland drastic solutions for the problems,` said al-Sistani`s representative during a Friday sermon in Karbala.

Al-Sistani`s comments came as the Iraqi security forces, backed by Shia militias, are struggling to regain control of territory lost to the IS group during a lightening of fensive last year.

Many Iraqis blame the rivalries among the country`s political leadership for the humiliating defeat suffered by government forces.

In Friday`s violence, police officials said a bomb exploded near an outdoor market in the Sunni town of Tarmlyiah, north of Baghdad, killing four people and wounding eight.-AP

Published in Dawn