Scores killed in Iraqi army raids in Anbar province

At least 73 people die in government strikes on a cafe in Ramadi, and in army shelling in northern Fallujah.

At least 23 people, including women and children, were killed after Iraqi government forces shelled areas in northern Fallujah [Reuters]

At least 73 people have been killed in Iraqi government air strikes and artillery fire in the the western Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, sources told Al Jazeera.

An air strike on a sports field in Ramadi shortly after midnight on Sunday killed at least 50 people and left more than 30 people injured. At least 23 people were killed and around 40 wounded after shelling north of Fallujah.

Hospital officials said most of those killed were young men and described them as civilians, a claim disputed by Iraqi security officials, who said those targeted were members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said sources in the city had accused the Iraqi government of using barrel bombs.

“In this latest attack we’re told that young men had gathered after breaking the day’s fast to play traditional games including soccer,” Arraf said.

“We’re also told by local sources that they were joined by members of ISIL, trying to recruit some of them, and that’s when they air strikes happened.”

The Iraqi army’s Anbar Operations Command said they launched air strikes in the city, aimed at what they called an ISIL gathering.

In Fallujah, which is also held by ISIL, 23 people including five women and seven children, were killed after Iraqi government forces shelled areas in the north of the city, hospital sources told Al Jazeera.

Claims of abuse

The deaths came as more than 30 members of the government-allied Popular Mobilisation Forces died in clashes with ISIL fighters near the city.

The spokesman for the coalition said fighting near the city was ongoing, and would pave the way for its eventual recapture.

The coalition of mainly Shia militias was formed in response to an ISIL offensive in the summer of 2014 that saw much of Anbar province fall to the armed group.

Both the militias and the Iraqi government have been condemned by human rights groups for abuses against Sunni Arab civilians, who constitute the majority of the population in the province.

Amnesty International has accused the Iraqi government of using ” indiscriminate shelling to regain control over Fallujah and parts of Ramadi from ISIL,” further accusing it of killing civilians and causing damage to civilian infrastructure.

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Source: Al Jazeera

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