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22 IS militants killed, hundreds of families return to Ramadi

RAMADI, Iraq, April 10 (Xinhua) -- A total of 22 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed Sunday during clashes and bomb attacks in Iraq's western province of Anbar, according to security sources.

Meanwhile, hundreds of families returned to their homes in the provincial capital city of Ramadi after it was freed from IS militant control, security sources said.

Security forces and allied paramilitary Sunni tribal fighters fought fierce battles against IS militants as part of their offensive campaign aiming to drive out IS militants from the town of Heet, 160 km west of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The troops gained more ground in Heet as they took control of the Al-Qal'a and Ummal districts, the source said without giving further details concerning casualties.

However, fierce street fighting continued in Heet, supported by the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi aircrafts in order to eradicate remaining IS-controlled districts from IS militants in the western parts of the town, the source added.

Six soldiers were killed and 13 others were injured during one incident, as eight landmines exploded whilst an army convoy was passing through Hamam Street in central Heet, destroying four military vehicles as well, the source said.

In the last few days, troops have slowed their advance into the town of Heet in order to give thousands of civilians trapped in the town an opportunity to flee their homes.

The troops seized the government compound Tuesday and raised the Iraqi flag on a main building after IS militants withdrew from the downtown and eastern part of Heet, but clashes are still ongoing in order to flush out remaining IS militants from the town's western part.

In other news, hundreds of families returned to their homes in the city of Ramadi which was liberated last December from IS control, the source added.

Hordes of displaced civilians entered Ramadi led by Abdul Latif al-Hemaym, head of the Sunni endowment.

Abdul Latif al-Hemaym is also the campaign leader planning the reconstruction of the city's devastated infrastructure in order to restore normalcy to the city, he said.

The displaced civilians returned to the city's central part as well as several others districts, which were ready to receive the families.

However, a few other districts were not yet ready to receive displaced families due to the extensive damage and destruction of the homes as well as the numerous booby-trapped houses and streets, the source added.

Also in Ramadi, international warplanes bombarded an IS post in the area of Gesierat close to the town of Al-Baghdadi, 190 km northwest of Baghdad, killing 16 IS militants, the source said.

Six more IS militants were killed by the army's artillery shelling in the area of Falahat in the west of the militant-seized city of Fallujah, 50 km west of Baghdad, the source added.

Iraqi security forces and allied Sunni paramilitary tribal units have been fighting IS militants to regain control of large territories in the north and west of Iraq, seized by IS in June 2014.

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