Middle East

Iraqi forces 'recapture Dhuluiya from Islamic State'

Shia militiaman from Kataib Imam Ali (Imam Ali Brigades) searches a house in Dhuluiya (29 December 2014) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The operation to break Islamic State's grip on Dhuluiya began on Sunday

Iraqi government forces and allied Shia militia have recaptured the town of Dhuluiya, north of Baghdad, from Islamic State, security sources say.

One source at the Iraqi army's Samarra Operations Command said almost 300 IS fighters had been killed in the battle.

There has been no independent confirmation of the reports.

IS fighters seized the northern half of Dhuluiya in June and surrounded the southern half after a local Sunni tribe refused to swear allegiance.

Since then, government forces backed by US-led air strikes have been gradually pushing back the jihadists north and west of the capital.

The operation to break Islamic State's grip on Dhuluiya began on Sunday with air raids by Iraqi helicopter and fighter jets, police and locals said.

Troops and militiamen had taken control of the town centre by Monday afternoon, and IS fighters had been surrounded in small areas to the north-west, Police Capt Khalaf Hammad told the Reuters news agency.

There were reports of fierce clashes overnight. Then by midday, security sources were claiming that the whole of the town was back in the government's hands, and that IS had suffered very heavy casualties when the northern area of Khrazraj was overrun.

A commander of the Badr Brigade, an Iranian-backed Shia militia, also told Iran's Press TV that Dhuluiya was now under full government control.