At least 820 soldiers were stationed at Camp Saqlawiyah in Anbar province, north of the insurgent-controlled Iraqi city of Fallujah, when it came under attack from five suicide bombings Sunday afternoon, said Lt. Col. Ihab Hashem, a deputy commander with the Iraqi army’s 8th division who was at the camp. Two bombers drove explosives-packed armored vehicles and three others detonated vests, he said.
In a statement Sunday night, Iraq’s Defense Ministry confirmed that it had lost contact with some of its “heroic soldiers” during operations in Anbar but did not give numbers. It vowed to continue to “clean every inch of land” of militants.
Five battalions had been stranded at the base without supplies for six days after Islamic State militants seized a bridge that was the last access route to the camp. Soldiers said they were forced to boil water from a muddy stream and had been running low on ammunition when the bombings occurred.
“We lost control,” Hashem said after crossing territory controlled by the Islamic State to reach another army base. “We couldn’t gather to retreat. Some are dead, others stayed.”