Iraqi troops retake 2 towns in eastern province
Baghdad — Iraqi troops backed by Shiite militiamen and Kurdish security forces recaptured two towns seized previously by militants in an eastern province, said Iraqi officials on Monday, a new victory for Iraqi security forces in their attempt to regain areas lost to the militants.
Police officials in Diyala province said that Iraqi forces entered the towns of Saadiya and Jalula late Sunday after fierce clashes with fighters from the Islamic State group.
The fighting is still continuing with some pockets of resistance outside the two towns, said the police officials. Teams defusing unexploded ordnance are working to defuse roadside bombs planted in the streets by the militants before their withdrawal.
Some families that fled the area have already started to come back to their homes in the two towns. Kurdish security forces, known also as peshmerga took part in the fighting against the IS group in both towns. Diyala province is ethnically mixed between Arabs and Kurds, and Jalula has a large Kurdish community.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Islamic militants seized the towns of Jalula, 80 miles northeast of Baghdad, and Saadiya, 60 miles north of the capital in August after a stunning summer blitz which enabled the Islamic State group to take over large swaths of land in the country’s north and west.