Iraqi forces Wednesday wrested back control of key areas west of Baghdad that have been out of government hands for weeks amid a deadly standoff between militants and security forces.

The battles in Anbar province, a mostly-Sunni desert region bordering on Syria, and a protracted surge in nationwide violence, have killed more than 850 people this month, fuelling fears Iraq is slipping back into the all-out conflict that plagued it from 2006 to 2008.

Washington has said it plans to sell Iraq 24 Apache attack helicopters in a $4.8 billion deal to help the country fight militants. […]