Islamic State (Isis) militants launched a deadly attack on government-held territory in Anbar province on Friday (10 April).
IS fighters battled Iraqi troops in Ramadi, the provincial capital just 75 miles from Iraq's capital, Baghdad. Security officials have said that the Islamist militants used suicide and vehicle bombs to break government ranks before attacking on foot.
Last month, government forces were successful in driving IS militants from Tikrit and the Iraqi security forces are now concentrating their efforts on the country's west.
The head of Anbar's provincial council, Sabah Karhout, has urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send military reinforcements and supplies to fighters as a matter of urgency as they are running low on ammunition.
During a visit to the Habbaniyah air base in Anbar earlier this week, al-Abadi had made a pledge to defeat IS in the area, but the militants control a majority of the province.
Albu Faraj seized
A police source in Ramadi said the militants had taken half of the Albu Faraj area, but it was later said to have been seized completely by IS, according to provincial council member, Athal al-Fahdawi.
The militants forced their way into the homes of police and soldiers – as multiple civilians fled to central Ramadi with what they could carry – and executed 15 relatives of local police officers, including seven children, six women and two elderly men. The figures could not be independently verified, but IS is known to conduct revenge attacks against relatives of its enemies.
According to the United Nations, 729 of the 997 Iraqis killed in March were civilians. Civilian deaths were highest in Baghdad, where 362 people were killed followed by Anbar, where 237 people were killed.
Despite overrunning much of Albu Faraj, the militants did not take the Anbar Operations Command, the joint headquarters for Iraqi security forces.