Iraqi troops backed by Shiite militiamen and Kurdish security forces recaptured two eastern towns from Islamic State terrorists after fierce clashes, officials said Monday.
Police in Diyala province said Iraqi forces entered the towns of Saadiya and Jalula late Sunday after heavy fighting with the Sunni extremist group, which controls territory in Iraq and Syria. The fighting continued Monday, with some pockets of resistance outside the two towns, police officials said, adding that teams were defusing roadside bombs. Some families that fled the area have started to return, they said.
Diyala saw heavy fighting between Sunni and Shiite factions at the height of Iraq’s sectarian bloodletting in 2006 and 2007. It also has a sizable Kurdish population.
Islamic State seized Jalula and Saadiya in August after a stunning blitz across northern and western Iraq.
Meanwhile Monday, a car bomb near a crowded Baghdad marketplace in the mainly Sunni Shaab neighborhood killed nine people and wounded 20, police said. No one immediately claimed responsibility. Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures.
Baghdad has endured near-daily bombings for months, most of which have targeted Shiite areas and have been blamed on the Islamic State group and other Sunni extremists.