Militants make ground in new push towards Baghdad
Baghdad: Militants seized part of the Iraqi town of Dhuluiyah today in fighting that killed six people, an official said, as a new drive towards the capital entered its third day.
Four policemen were among the dead in the fighting for the town, which the militants took in a lightning offensive last month before its recapture by government forces in one of their rare successes of the conflict, district official Marwan Mitaab said.
The assault on the town, just 80 kilometres north of Baghdad, began early today and has since overrun more than half of it, including the police station and two local government buildings, Mitaab said.
A Dhuluiyah resident said that a large part of the town has been overrun, reversing gains made by police and residents, who expelled militants from the town last month.
After a period in which battle lines have been relatively stagnant, jihadist-led militants seem to be making a renewed push to gain ground, after overrunning a vast swathe of northern and north-central Iraq in their offensive that began in second city Mosul on June 9.
Security forces held off major attacks near Anbar provincial capital Ramadi and the strategic Euphrates valley town of Haditha on Friday and Saturday.
But militants were able to overrun two towns in Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, yesterday, despite a security force operation aimed at regaining territory in the confessionally mixed province.
The violence comes with Iraq`s fractious parliament due to meet later today under heavy pressure to set differences aside and make progress on forming a new government to help counter the militant drive towards Baghdad.
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