Iraq army general killed by shelling: spokesman

Iraq army general killed by shelling: spokesman
A burnt vehicle belonging to the Iraqi security forces is seen on a street in the city of Mosul, July 6, 2014.

BAGHDAD - Shelling west of Baghdad killed the commander of the Iraqi army's 6th division on Monday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's security spokesman said.

Major General Najm Abdullah al-Sudani was killed by "hostile shelling" west of Baghdad, Lieutenant General Qassem Atta told AFP by text message.

Maliki issued a statement offering his condolences on the death of Sudani, who was "martyred on the field of battle".

Sudani was killed in the Abu Ghraib area, just west of Baghdad, near where security forces have been locked in a months-long standoff with militants who have seized control of the city of Fallujah.

The government lost control of Fallujah and parts of nearby Ramadi in January, and Iraqi forces have so far failed to retake them.

More recently, a jihadist-led offensive overran swathes of four provinces north of Baghdad and more areas in Anbar, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, alarming the international community and heaping pressure on Maliki as he bids for a third term as premier.

Sudani is the latest in a series of senior Iraqi officers to be killed by militants and the highest-ranking casualty since a major jihadist-led offensive began on June 9.

On December 29, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near a military convoy in the northern city of Mosul, killing four soldiers, among them a brigadier general, a colonel and a lieutenant colonel.

And five senior officers, including a division commander, were among 15 soldiers killed during an operation against militants in Iraq's Anbar province on December 21.

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