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U.S. steps up air strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq: statement

WASHINGTON: U.S.-led forces stepped up air operations in Iraq against Islamic State positions, with 29 of 39 air strikes in the country on Sunday coming near the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi, the Combined Joint Task Force leading the air operations said in a statement on Monday.

There also were nine air strikes in Syria targeting Islamic State forces with bomber, fighter-attack and drone aircraft, seven coming near Al Hasakah and one each near Raqqah and Kobani, according to the statement.

Iraqi troops and Shia Muslim militia forces attacked Islamic State fighters on several fronts on Monday in Anbar province at the start of what is likely to be a long and fiercely contested offensive.

The U.S. military statement said air strikes were conducted in Iraq on Sunday near seven cities using bomber, attack, fighter-attack and drone aircraft.

Most came near Ramadi, according to the statement, targeting Islamic State staging areas, excavators, an armored personnel carrier and another vehicle. Other air strikes in Iraq came near Al Huwayjah, Habbaniyah, Hit, Makhmur, Sinjar and Tal Afar, the statement said.

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