Representative image of Islamic State fighters armed with a rocket launcher and assault rifle. (Associated Press)
Iraqi officials say a suicide blast targeting security forces and subsequent clashes with the Islamic State militants have killed at least 23 troops and allied Sunni fighters in the embattled western province of Anbar.
The officials say a suicide bomber first struck a gathering of pro-government Sunni fighters near the town of al-Baghdadi this morning. The town is about 180 kilometers (110 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Soon after, the Islamic State extremists attacked nearby army and police positions, setting off clashes.
Police and hospital officials say 23 were killed and 28 others were wounded on the government side. They did not give casualties on the militants' side. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.