Iraq: Senior military commander killed along with more than a dozen others

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An Iraqi boy inspects a burnt-out vehicle following a suicide attack the previous night in Baghdad's eastern al-Jadidah district, on October 7, 2013. Violence in Iraq has reached a level unseen since 2008, amid persistent fears of a relapse into the kind of intense Sunni-Shiite bloodshed that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people.

Credit:

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

Over a dozen Iraqi soldiers were killed on Saturday after a raid on an alleged Al Qaeda compound.

The assault on the hideout killed five senior Iraqi officers, including Mohammed al-Karoui, the commander of the army's 7th Division.

Al-Karoui was leading the operation, which occured about 235 miles west of Baghdad in the town of Rutba.

During the attack, which was preceded by a helicopter assault, Iraqi soldiers were attacked by suicide bombers and other explosives.

It is believed that Al-Karoui was killed by a roadside bomb while soldiers pursued fleeing militants.

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Iraq's defence ministry launched the assault after word that Al Qaeda had set up camps in the area used for training militants in bomb-making.

The militants were also producing suicide belts at the camp in Anbar province.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki offered his condolences after the deaths.

"These heroes... were carrying out the most noble battles against the enemies of God and humanity," said Maliki.

Extreme violence has plagued Iraq since the US pullout about two years ago. Bombings and sectarian strife have risen to levels unseen since 2008 - the tail end of Iraq's civil war.

More than 8,000 people have been killed since January, mostly in Sunni-Shia violence.