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Iraq fighting brings fear of civil war

BAGHDAD — In the face of an armed rebellion by disgruntled Sunni Muslims against his Shi’ite-led government, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday urged dialogue to calm tensions but vowed to continue military operations in a growing sectarian conflict that he warned could lead to a civil war like the one raging in Syria.

‘‘Security forces must impose security in Iraq, which is affected by a region teeming with sectarianism,’’ Maliki said in a speech on Thursday afternoon. ‘‘And now we are starting to see those problems come to us.’’

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Maliki’s remarks came as his security forces continued to battle armed Sunni tribesmen, some linked to an insurgent group led by former officials of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, in a fight that began Tuesday morning when security forces raided a Sunni protest camp in the northern village of Hawijah, near Kirkuk, that left at least 50 civilians dead and more than 100 wounded.

That led to a series of revenge attacks against security forces, and the fighting intensified Wednesday in the town of Sulaiman Bek.

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