Iraqi forces recapture Dhuluiyah from ISIS: commanders

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Pro-Iraqi government fighters, some belonging to the Iraqi Imam Ali Brigade, take part in an operation to secure an area they seized from ISIS in Yathreb near Balad, about 75 kilometres (45 miles) north of Baghdad on December 29, 2014. AFP/Mohammed Sawaf

Published Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Iraqi forces on Tuesday completed the recapture of the town of Dhuluiyah, parts of which had been held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group for months, commanders said.

ISIS, which declared a "caliphate" over territory it seized in Iraq and Syria, seized the second city of Mosul and swept through the country's heartland in June in matter of days.

Since then, Iraqi forces have been trying to halt the advance of the militants and taking back territories captured.

The Iraqi army and allied forces pushed into Dhuluiyah, located 90 kilometers (55 miles) outside Baghdad, from the north two days earlier, fighting their way south, and seized the airport just outside the town.

"Forces from the army, police, pro-government groups, and tribes succeeded today in regaining control of Dhuluiyah," an army major general told AFP.

The officer said that 50 military vehicles advanced from the north and linked up with allied forces in the town's southern Jubur area, which resisted repeated assault by ISIS.

This "means the complete liberation of Dhuluiyah and the end of ISIS presence," he added.

A leader in the Badr pro-government fighters group, which took part in the operation, confirmed the "complete liberation of Dhuluiyah."

"We succeeded in breaking the blockade which was imposed by ISIS on the Jubur tribe," the commander said.

People fired in the air and honked car horns in celebration, according to a policeman in the town, which is strategically located on roads linking the eastern province of Diyala to Salaheddin province in the north.

Since Sunday government forces backed by tribesmen and pro-government fighters have been clearing bombs and other explosives placed by the jihadists in various parts of the town.

Iraqi forces launched their latest offensive on Friday, attacking ISIS positions on several fronts and capturing a string of villages south of Dhuluiyah.

In October, Iraqi forces retook from ISIS most of Dhuluiyah, but the militants later launched a counter-offensive and seized ground they had lost.

In November, the army retook the strategic town of Baiji and its refinery from ISIS.

After the victory in Baiji, an army brigadier said the military would seek next to isolate militants holding the city of Tikrit, home town of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, and also close in on Samarra.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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