BAGHDAD, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces launched two major offensives to recapture two towns from the Islamic State militants in the provinces of Salahudin and Diyala, officials said on Saturday.
In Salahudin province, the security forces backed by thousands of Shiite militiamen are moving toward the town of Amerli, some 90 km east of the provincial capital city of Tikrit, which has been under the siege of the militants of the Islamic State, an al-Qaida offshoot group, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir al-Zaiydi, the military commander of the security forces told reporters.
The troops have been fighting fierce clashes since Friday and have seized several areas surrounding the positions of the Islamic State militants who have been imposing more than two-month siege on Amerli, Zaiydi said.
Up to 30 militants of the Islamic State group have been killed during the past hours of Saturday along with several vehicles by the battles of the troops and the militants, Zaiydi said.
"We have 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," Zaiydi added.
Meanwhile, some 4,000 fighters from the military wing of the Shiite group named Badr Organization are taking part in the battles, Karim al-Nouri, spokesman of the organization which is affiliated with the Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim, said in a statement.
Badr militiamen are fighting alongside thousands of others from Shiite militias of Asaib Ahel al-Haq and Moqtada al-Sadr's Saraya al-Salam to free the Shiite Turkomans town of Amerli.
Salahudin province is a predominantly Sunni province and its capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein.
In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, security forces backed by Shiite militiamen and aircraft launched another offensive and managed to free Injanah area, some 70 km north of the provincial capital city of Baquba, Udai al-Khadran, the mayor of the Shiite city of Khalis and a Shiite militia commander told a news conference.
"After seven hours of fierce clashes with the Islamic State militants, leaving more than 30 militants killed and burning several of their vehicles," al-Khadran said.
"The troops and the volunteers (militiamen) also cleared nine villages around Injanah, making the security forces capturing the whole valley of Udhiem River in the northern part of the province which has been seized earlier by the terrorists," al-Khadran added.
The rural area around Udiem River have been the scene of fierce clashes during the past few months between the Sunni insurgent groups, including the Islamic State, and the Iraqi security forces backed by the Shiite militias.
The security situation began to drastically deteriorate in Iraq on June 10, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and hundreds of Sunni 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.