Iraqi forces said they fought off an overnight attack by Islamic State militants near the city of Ramadi, which the insurgents overran at the weekend in the most significant setback for the government in a year.
Islamic State is seeking to consolidate its gains in the vast desert province of Anbar, of which Ramadi is capital, where only isolated pockets of territory remain under government control.
The IS advance has exposed the failings of Iraq’s army and the limitations of US airstrikes.
Government forces backed by Shi’ite militias have meanwhile been building up at a base near Ramadi in preparation for a counterattack to retake the city, where Islamic State forces have tanks and artillery abandoned by fleeing Iraqi forces.
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