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UN Council backs Iraq government against militants

United Nations: The UN Security Council on Friday gave strong backing to an Iraqi government campaign to retake provincial strongholds from al Qaeda-linked militants.

The 15-nation council agreed a statement backing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki amid mounting concern over the battle for Anbar province, which runs from the western suburbs of Baghdad up to the border with Syria.

The council condemned attacks by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and praised the “great courage” of the Iraqi security forces in Anbar.

“The Security Council expresses its strong support for the continued efforts of the Iraqi government to help meet the security needs of the entire population of Iraq,” said the statement.

The council urged “Iraqi tribes, local leaders, and Iraqi security forces in Anbar province, to continue, expand and strengthen their cooperation against violence and terror and it stresses the critical importance of continued national dialogue and unity.”

Gunmen seized Fallujah, just west of Baghdad, and parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi last week, the first time militants have had such power in major cities since the insurgency following the 2003 US-led invasion.

Tribal fighters and police retook two areas of Ramadi on Friday as part of a fightback.

While rights groups have highlighted the impact on the longer suffering population of the province, the United States has increased pressure on Maliki's government to focus on political reconciliation, as well as the military operations, to end the standoff, which comes three months from a key national election.

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