Iraqi SWAT troopers take part in an intensive security deployment on the outskirts the city of Ramadi, 100 km (62 miles) west of Baghdad, January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
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A series of attacks in and around Baghdad, including a spate of car bombings, killed 23 people Monday as Iraqi forces pressed an assault against militant-held areas of Anbar province.The latest bloodshed comes amid a surge in violence that left more than 1,000 people dead in January, the worst such figure in nearly six years, as security forces grapple with near-daily attacks and protracted battles with anti-government fighters. North of Baghdad in restive Diyala province, separate attacks on security forces left two soldiers dead, while bombings also struck in ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, wounding three people.ISIL has also been involved in fighting security forces in Anbar province, a mostly Sunni desert region bordering Syria where militants have for weeks held parts of Ramadi and all of Fallujah, which lies on Baghdad's doorstep.The army has largely stayed out of Fallujah, a short drive from Baghdad, fearing major incursions could ignite a protracted conflict with massive civilian casualties and damage to property.
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