Senior Iraqi army commander killed in battle: prime minister

Reuters

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A senior Iraqi general was killed in fighting with insurgents close to Baghdad on Monday, as the army fights to hold militant Sunni Islamists back from the capital.

Major General Negm Abdullah Ali, commander of the army's sixth division, responsible for defending part of Baghdad, "met martyrdom on the battlefield as he was fighting ... terrorists", Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a statement.

Ali was killed "when mortar rounds fell" in the Ibrahim Bin Ali area, about 16 km (10 miles) northwest of Baghdad, the office of Maliki's military spokesman said later.

Ibrahim Bin Ali has been fought over for months because of its proximity to Shi'ite districts of Baghdad.

Security forces have been in a standoff with rebels in the area since the city of Fallujah, some 70 km (45 miles) west of Baghdad, was overrun by earlier this year.

Insurgents led by a group called the Islamic State seized large parts of northern and western Iraq last month and have threatened to move on Baghdad.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick and Isra'a al Rubei'i; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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