As operation to retake town from ISIL begins, debate on who will govern after the armed group’s defeat heats up.
ISIL fighters have killed at least seven Iraqi soldiers and wounded 16 others in a series of attacks in the country’s Anbar province, security sources said.
Wednesday’s attacks targeted several positions held by Iraqi forces in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, the sources added.
Iraqi forces were bringing reinforcements to the area under attack, near the city of Ramadi, as clashes continued several hours after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) fighters attacked the troops with suicide car bombs, mortars and machine guns.
ISIL fighters were driven out from Ramadi in late 2015 but a low-intensity guerrilla war has continued in the region.
The attacks follow a series of military setbacks suffered by the ISIL in Iraq.
Earlier this month, ISIL reportedly killed at least 60 people and injured dozens more in a pair of gun-and-car attacks near the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.
Those attacks started with unidentified assailants opening fire inside a restaurant on the main highway that links the capital Baghdad with the southern provinces. Shortly afterwards, an explosives-laden car attacked a security checkpoint in the same area.
In July, Iraqi forces retook control of Mosul, ISIL’s key stronghold in the north, after a campaign of nearly nine months.
In August, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the group in Tel Afar, west of Mosul.
ISIL still controls Hawija in Iraq’s oil-rich province of Kirkuk and western areas in the country’s largest province of Anbar.
In 2014, ISIL captured almost one-third of Iraqi territory in a lightning offensive. It now only holds two pockets of territory in the country.