Iraq tribe says it kills 55 al-Qaeda fighters
RAMADI, Iraq, Nov 26 (Reuters) - The head of a tribal council in Iraq's western province of Anbar said on Sunday that tribesmen had killed 55 al Qaeda fighters in a battle on Saturday, but the U.S. military could not confirm the figures.
The death toll, if confirmed, would mark an unusually fierce clash with insurgents in a province where U.S. forces regularly battle foreign fighters they say are linked to al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgents.
The U.S. military said in a statement it launched air strikes and fired artillery to help a tribe in the town of Sofia after an attack by al Qaeda.
"Al Qaeda burned homes and killed members of the tribe using small arms fire and mortars," the military said in a statement. It gave no casualty figures.
Sattar al-Buzayi, head of the Anbar Salvation Council, an umbrella group of tribes in Anbar, a vast Sunni province in the west of Iraq, said tribal fighters had raided an al Qaeda stronghold and killed 55 militants and arrested 25. He said nine tribal fighters were killed in the clash.