High-ranking Iraqi army officer killed in clashes

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Clashes broke out at a late hour Thursday (December 13th) between suspected al-Qaeda gunmen and Iraqi army forces in Ninawa province, killing a high-ranking army officer, officials said.

"Violent clashes broke out between al-Qaeda armed men and army forces as the army forces tried to enter a desert area 187 kilometres west of Mosul," Ninawa military command spokesperson Lt. Col. Abdul Rahim al-Atwani told Al-Shorfa.

The officer was Col. Khaled al-Zuhairi, commander of the Baaj district regiment. Two other soldiers also were killed in the clashes, as were "three al-Qaeda gunmen", he said.

Army forces arrested two of the gunmen, he said, while others fled to agricultural areas following the clashes.

"The army managed to destroy five al-Qaeda all-terrain vehicles, which contained explosives and different weapons," al-Atwani said. "The security forces bolstered the combat area with additional forces and launched intensive campaigns in search of the al-Qaeda gunmen."

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