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Security forces recapture 2 towns in Iraq

Iraqi security forces retook control of two towns after battles with the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the eastern province of Diyala on Monday, a provincial security source said.

"Iraqi army, police, Shiite militias and Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, freed the towns of Saadiyah, some 120 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, and the nearby Jalawlaa, after fierce clashes with the IS militants," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

During the day, the troops continued fighting a few pockets of resistance at the edges of the two towns, while explosive experts are defusing dozens of roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings, the source said.

Early on Sunday, the security forces entered the two towns and gained footholds after fierce clashes with the IS militants, and later the troops fully seized the towns after they managed to drive the extremist militants out of the towns.

In the morning, Lieutenant General Jamil al-Shimary, provincial police chief, told Xinhua that the two towns are announced military zones and their displaced families will not be allowed to return until the security forces end their campaign to clear the towns' houses and roads from hundreds of mines and roadside bombs.

Al-Shimary gave no details about casualties among the Iraqi security forces and allied militiamen, but he said that dozens of IS militants were killed and many others fled their positions in the towns.

A medical source from the main hospital in the predominantly Kurdish city of Khanaqin, 160 km northeast of Baghdad, told Xinhua that a total of 17 Peshmerga members, including an officer, were killed and some 31 others injured in the battles in Saadiyah and Jalawlaa.

The ethnically mixed towns of Jalawlaa and Saadiyah have been the scenes of fierce clashes between the security forces, including Peshmerga, and the IS militants who captured the two towns in mid-August.

The security situation in Iraq began to drastically deteriorate since June 10, when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and the IS group, an al-Qaida offshoot, who took control of the country's northern province of Nineveh and later seized swathes of territories after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in other Sunni provinces.

[Source: Xinhua, Baquba, 24Nov14]

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