BAGHDAD, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces battled insurgents' attempts to advance toward cities in the country's eastern province of Diyala on Friday, a provincial police source said.
In Diyala, militant groups seized two villages overnight at the edge of al-Maqdadiyah city, some 100 km northeast of the capital Baghdad, but the security forces retook control of the villages in the morning after a fierce clash, leaving three militants killed, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, army and police forces withdrew from the city of Jalawlaa, 130 km northeast of Baghdad, after militant groups attacked the city and took control of it, the source said.
However, Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, intervened and fought back the militants and retook the city after killing five gunmen, while three Kurdish troops were wounded, the source said.
Also in the province, the security forces withdrew from the city of Saadiyah, 120 km northeast of Baghdad, without fighting, but the Kurdish security forces took over the city, the source added.
Diyala province, which stretches from eastern edges of Baghdad to the Iranian border, has long been the stronghold of al-Qaida militant groups and hotbed of insurgency and sectarian violence since the U.S.-led invasion broke out in 2003.
The security deterioration in Iraq started last week when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and hundreds of gunmen who took control of several neighborhoods in western part of Mosul and expanded later to other areas and provinces after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from the city.
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