Gunmen patrol in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. (AP Photo)
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Fierce clashes erupted Friday between Iraqi special forces and Al-Qaeda-linked militants in a village in the embattled western Anbar province, officials said.The village, al-Bubali, lies between Fallujah and Ramadi, two key cities in Anbar that are under siege by Iraqi security forces and their allies from Sunni tribes.Iraqi troops have clashed with the Al-Qaeda fighters mainly on the outskirts of Fallujah and Ramadi and have carried out occasional airstrikes against the militants' positions.But they have held off on launching a major offensive to retake the two cities, fearing that possible civilian casualties could incite Sunni anger and push moderate tribal leaders to side with the extremists.
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