Iraqi soldiers retake Sunni town held by militants


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Iraqi soldiers backed by Shia militiamen yesterday retook control of a Sunni town seized previously by Islamic militants, said an Iraqi official and state-run TV, a rare victory for Iraqi security forces that have been battling to regain areas lost to the militants.

The provincial official said that government forces entered Jurf al-Sakhar, which fell to Isis in late July. Colonel Muthana Khalid, a spokesman of the Babil provincial police, said the battle for the town left dozens of militants dead or wounded.

“Our soldiers raised the Iraqi flag over government offices and buildings in the town. It is another victory achieved against the terrorists,” Colonel Khalid said.

The town, 50km south of the capital, is part of a predominantly Sunni ribbon that runs just south of Baghdad.

State-run TV showed footage of Iraqi soldiers walking near Jurf al-Sakhar police station and the municipal building. Also, explosive experts were shown detonating some roadside bombs planted by the insurgents in order to delay the advance of the Iraqi forces.


The cleared town lies on a road usually taken by Shia pilgrims who will be heading in droves to the holy Shia city of Karbala next week in order to commemorate the death of Prophet Mohamed’s grandson, Imam Hussein – one of the most revered Shia martyrs.

Isis captured large swathes of territory in western and northern Iraq in an offensive earlier this year, plunging the country into its worst crisis since US troops left at the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, the US military said yesterday it launched air strikes north and west of Baghdad, hitting a small Isis unit and destroying armed vehicles.

Police and hospital officials said a bomb exploded on a commercial street in western Baghdad, killing three people and wounding eight others. In southern Baghdad, a bomb blast near a line of shops killed two people and wounded seven others.