RAMADI, Iraq, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Iraqi troops and loyalist militias launched an attack on militants in the city of Ramadi Sunday, the government said.
Security forces backed by helicopters and pro-government militia moved into five neighborhoods of the Sunni Arab city, which was taken over by the militants last month.
"The Iraqi army launched a large operation with helicopter cover against Daash, al-Qaida and terrorists in Ramadi," defense ministry spokesman Staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari said on state television.
Sunday's operation was the long-awaited counter-attack by the Baghdad government following its ouster from a large swath of Ramadi and the entire city of Fallujah. The crisis began with national elections looming and terrorist violence on the rise nationwide.
Middle East Online said another nine people were killed by bomb blasts in cities north of Baghdad Sunday. More than 650 people have died this month in the surge of terrorist violence.