Iraqi security forces, backed by Sunni tribesmen, clashed Sunday with a united of al-Qaida fighters near the Syrian border, killing at least 21 members of the terrorist organization, police said.
The fighting, near the border town of Qaim in Anbar province began after midnight and lasted several hours, said Col. Tariq Youssef, a police official in the city, 320 kilometers west of Baghdad.
The colonel said "a small number of the tribal fighters suffered minor wounds" and all 21 al-Qaida members in the unit were killed.
"The operation was launched by police forces backed by the Abu Faraj and Abu Shaaban tribes against members of al-Qaida," he said. "We believe that they were trying to flee the country because they are surrounded now in Anbar by the growing number of tribes that reject al-Qaida."