Baghdad: Iraqi security forces Sunday broke through to the town of Amerli which had remained under siege for more than two months by the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist organisation, security sources said.
"The security forces managed to break the siege of Amerli as well as several nearby villages," military spokesman Qasim Atta told reporters without elaborating further.
The IS militants escaped en masse as Iraqi troops and volunteers advanced towards Amerli, Atta said.
The security forces, backed by thousands of Shia militiamen and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, moved into the town, some 90 km east of Salahudin province's capital Tikrit, a security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Since the early hours of the day, the troops under US and Iraqi air support fought fierce clashes with the militants of the IS, an Al Qaeda offshoot group, around the town and made their advance to the town from three directions by noon, the source said.
The troops have been involved in fierce clashes since Friday and have seized several areas surrounding the positions of the IS militants who had laid siege to Amerli for more than two months.
Separately, the security forces took control of a main road leading to the nearby town of Sulaiman Beg, which was seized by the militants more than two months ago, the source said.
On Saturday, Abdul Amir al-Zaiydi, the military commander of the security forces, told reporters that it would take "hours or no more than one or two days to break the siege of Amerli and open safe roads to relief the town's residents who are fighting to protect their town despite acute shortage of food and water for more than two months".
Salahudin province is a predominantly Sunni province and its capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
The security situation began to drastically deteriorate in Iraq June 10 when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and hundreds of IS militants, who took control of the country's northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territories after the Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.