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Heavy clashes south of Baghdad kill at least 21 Iraqi soldiers

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    Iraqi federal policemen patrol in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib suburb, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships launched an operation early Saturday aimed at dislodging Sunni militants from the northern city of Tikrit, one of two major urban centers they seized in recent weeks in a dramatic blitz across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    A displaced Iraqi Christian man who fled from the Christian village of Hamdania near Mosul province in Iraq, lies on the ground at a temporary shelter for the displaced Christian families in Ainkawa, a suburb of Irbil, with a majority Christian population, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Around 2,000 Christians had entered the Kurdish city of Irbil by Thursday morning, June 26. A Christian official there said the Kurdish region is the only part of Iraq where Christians are protected from violence. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-301

    Smoke rising in the skyline after airstrikes by the Iraq military in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. The Iraq military carried out three airstrikes on the insurgent held city of Mosul early Saturday. One of the air raids hit a commercial area that did not have any obvious military target, residents said. (AP Photo)

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  • APTOPIX-Mideast-Iraq-22

    Chinese workers who fled from Samarra, Iraq, wait for buses to begin their journey home as they sit at a hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. China's official Xinhua news agency said that more than 1,200 Chinese workers who had been trapped in the embattled northern Iraqi city of Samarra have been evacuated safely to Baghdad, with the Iraqi military providing security. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-302

    Displaced Iraqi Christian girls who fled with their parents from the Christian village of Hamdania near Mosul province in Iraq, play by their balloons at a temporary shelter for the displaced Christian families in Ainkawa, a suburb of Irbil, with a majority Christian population, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Around 2,000 Christians had entered the Kurdish city of Irbil by Thursday morning, June 26. A Christian official there said the Kurdish region is the only part of Iraq where Christians are protected from violence. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-303

    Iraqi federal policemen patrol in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib suburb, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships launched an operation early Saturday aimed at dislodging Sunni militants from the northern city of Tikrit, one of two major urban centers they seized in recent weeks in a dramatic blitz across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-China-Evacuated-Workers

    Chinese workers who fled from Samarra, Iraq, wait for buses to begin their journey home as they sit at a hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. China's official Xinhua news agency said that more than 1,200 Chinese workers who had been trapped in the embattled northern Iraqi city of Samarra have been evacuated safely to Baghdad, with the Iraqi military providing security. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-304

    Iraqi federal policemen stand guard at a checkpoint outside of Baghdad International Airport, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships launched an operation early Saturday aimed at dislodging Sunni militants from the northern city of Tikrit, one of two major urban centers they seized in recent weeks in a dramatic blitz across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-China-Evacuated-Workers-1

    Chinese workers who fled from Samarra, Iraq, wait for buses to begin their journey home as they sit at a hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. China's official Xinhua news agency said that more than 1,200 Chinese workers who had been trapped in the embattled northern Iraqi city of Samarra have been evacuated safely to Baghdad, with the Iraqi military providing security. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Mideast-Iraq-305

    Displaced Iraqi Christian boys who fled with their parents from the Christian village of Hamdania near Mosul province in Iraq, wear masks at a temporary shelter for the displaced Christian families in Ainkawa, a suburb of Irbil, with a majority Christian population, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Around 2,000 Christians had entered the Kurdish city of Irbil by Thursday morning, June 26. A Christian official there said the Kurdish region is the only part of Iraq where Christians are protected from violence. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials say heavy clashes between security forces and Sunni insurgents have killed at least 21 troops south of Baghdad.

Police officials say the fighting raged for hours today near the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, some 30 miles south of the capital. The town is part of a predominantly Sunni ribbon that runs just south of Baghdad.

The officials say dozens of militants were killed and several captured during the fighting.

Hospital officials confirmed the government forces’ casualty figures.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were authorized to brief the media.

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