Published: Jan 20, 2014 9:35 AM EST


BAGHDAD (AP) - A senior Iraqi official claims al-Qaida fighters hunkered down in a city they seized late last month west of Baghdad have enough heavy weapons to take the country's capital.

Senior deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi says Iraqi forces are fighting "fierce battles" against heavily armed militants to recapture parts of Ramadi, the capital of the western Anbar province, and also the nearby city of Fallujah.

He says the weapons in Fallujah that are in the hands of Iraq's al-Qaida branch and other Sunni militant groups battling the Shiite-led government are "advanced and huge and enough to occupy Baghdad."

Iraq's government announced on Sunday an all-out military operation to push al-Qaida out of Ramadi.

Meanwhile, a series of bombings across Baghdad, targeting marketplaces and two court buildings, has killed 21 people.


The explosions came as Iraqi forces are pushing an offensive against al-Qaida and allied militants west of the capital.

Police say the deadliest of today's blasts hit an outdoor market in the south of the capital, killing seven people and wounding 13.