Iraqi troops are still fighting a pitch battle to regain control of two key cities from militants linked to al Qaeda.
In Ramadi, military anti-terrorist teams have been engaged in street fighting with army forces reluctant to enter residential areas.
At least eight people were killed and 30 others wounded in Fallujah as Iraqi troops shelled rebel positions.
A mixture of Sunni Islamist and tribal forces are dug into Ramadi and the western region’s other main city, Fallujah. The seizure on Monday of territory is the first time in years that Sunni insurgents have taken effective control of the region’s most important cities.
The army said it controlled the entrance to Fallujah and were gearing up for strikes against the militants in both cities.
“We prefer not to attack now, as the militants have been deployed among the families,” said Sameer al-Shwiali, media adviser to the commander of the anti-terrorist squad.
The escalating tension shows that the civil war in Syria, where mostly Sunni rebels are battling President Bashar al-Assad, is spilling over to Iraq and threatening its delicate sectarian balance.
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