Military sources have reported that ISIS conducted a complex suicide bombing attack in the city of Samarra in Iraq, killing 45 police officers.
The attack involved ISIS fighters ramming three vehicles laden with explosives into a military base in the Thartha region of the Anbar province on a main road connecting Samarra and Fallujah.
One source told BBC that several high-ranking officers were among the casualties.
Anbar, Iraq’s westernmost province, is home to a Sunni majority which has been entrenched in continuous violent clashes since ISIS fighters crossed over the Syrian border last June.
Fighting in Anbar reached new heights last month after ISIS captured Anbar’s capital city of Ramadi from local defenders on May 17, after calls by police for military reinforcements went unheeded.
The central government in Baghdad began an operation to recapture the city, however the plan saw the entry of large numbers of Iranian-backed and Iraqi funded Shiite militiamen into the province, much to the dismay of Anbar’s local Sunni residents.
Anbar is home to a Sunni majority, raising concerns due to the involvement of Shiite militias in upcoming clashes to re-capture the city.
Shiite militias who entered the province of Tikrit in March were recorded looting homes of Sunni residents before torching them in the town of al-Dour.
Claims of Shiite militias leading lynch mobs in Tikrit also emerged, with one such incident being reported by Reuters involving two militia officials taking out knives “and repeatedly stabbed [a] man in the neck and [slitting] his throat.”
Coming just weeks after a successful campaign to liberate Tikrit, the loss of Ramadi is a serious setback to the Iraqi government as the city lies just 120 kilometers east of the nation’s capital of Baghdad.
Over 500 people were killed in the battle for the city as 40,000 civilians, a third of the city’s population, wait on the outskirts of Baghdad after being denied refuge within the city.