TIKRIT, Iraq (Xinhua) – Iraqi security forces on Tuesday retook control of a town in Iraq’s northern central province of Salahudin after days of heavy clashes with the Islamic State (IS) militant group, a provincial security source said.
The security forces, backed by Shiite militias and allied Sunni tribesmen, seized the whole town of Dhuluiyah, some 90km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, and raised the Iraqi flags on main buildings in the centre of the town, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Dhuluiyah is home to the Sunni tribe of al-Jubour, who have been fighting IS militants for several month.
The extremist militants seized the town in mid-June, but were driven away from the southern part of the town, where the tribesmen’s homes are located.
The IS militants were only seizing the northern part of the town and imposing a siege on it from the surrounding rural areas.
The town and the surrounding areas have been freed from the IS militants after a series of offensives by the Iraqi forces that started last Thursday, the source said.
During the past three days, the battles have concentrated in the areas of Albu-Jwari and Khazraj in the northern part of Dhuluiyah, where the troops finally managed to drive out the extremist militants after heavy shelling by Iraqi artillery and aircraft, the source added.
The IS militants planted dozens of bombs in the streets and buildings in most of the freed neighborhoods.
Teams of explosive experts have been working to defuse dozens of roadside bombs and booby-trapped houses, he said.
Salahudin is a predominantly Sunni province and its capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former President Saddam Hussein.