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UN chief visits Baghdad amid tense standoff between Iraqi troops, al-Qaida militants in west

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    Gunmen patrol in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. Iraqi forces have yet to militarily try to reassert control over Fallujah, which remains in the hands of the militants and tribal gunmen opposed to the central government. Militants and tribal fighters also control part of the provincial capital, Ramadi. Sporadic clashes there and in surrounding areas continue to take place. (AP Photo) (The Associated Press)

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    Iraqi security forces stand guard at the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. Two separate car bomb explosions targeted Sunday morning commuters in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen civilians, officials said, amid an ongoing standoff between Iraqi forces and al-Qaida-linked militants west of the Iraqi capital. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) (The Associated Press)

The U.N. chief has arrived in Baghdad as an unprecedented standoff is underway between Iraqi troops and al-Qaida-linked militants in western Anbar province.

Ahead of Ban Ki-moon's visit on Monday, the Iraqi government said the U.N. secretary-general would discuss a number of "regional issues, especially the crisis in Syria" next door.

Iraqi security forces and allied Sunni tribesmen in Anbar have been battling al-Qaida fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant but have yet to recapture the city of Fallujah and also part of the provincial capital, Ramadi.

The extremist militants, emboldened by fellow fighters' gains in the war in neighboring Syria, have tried to position themselves as the champions of Iraqi Sunnis angry at the Shiite-led government over what they see as efforts to marginalize them.