Iraqi troops retake control of Sunni town

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Iraqi soldiers backed by Shiite militiamen Sunday 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-Skhar, which fell to fighters from the Islamic State group in late July.

Col Muthana Khalid, spokesman of the Babil provincial police, said the battle over 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,” Khalid added.

The town, 50 kilometres (30 miles) 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-Skhar 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 Shiite pilgrims who will be heading in droves to the holy Shiite city of Karbala next week in order to commemorate the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s grandson, Imam Hussain (AS).