BAGHDAD, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Sunday made a break through to the town of Amerli after more than two months of being sieged by the Islamic State militant group, security sources said.
"The security forces managed to break the siege of Amerli as well as several nearby villages," the military spokesman Lieutenant General Qasim Atta told reporters without elaboration.
"There have been mass escape from the terrorist gangs as our troops and volunteers were advancing toward Amerli, Atta said.
The security forces backed by thousands of Shiite militiamen and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters moved in the town of Amerli, some 90 km east of Salahudin's provincial capital of Tikrit, according to a provincial security source who told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Since the early hours of the day, the troops under U.S. and Iraqi air support fought fierce clashes with the Islamic State militants, an al-Qaida offshoot group, around the town and made their advance to the town from three directions by noon, the source said.
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, the source said in earlier report.
Separately, the security forces took control of a main road leading to the nearby town of Sulaiman Beg, which has been seized by the militants more than two months ago, the source said.
The state-run Iraqiya channel quoted commander of the security forces Lieutenant General Abdul Amir al-Zaiydi as saying that his troops and the Shiite volunteers had seized part of Sulaiman Beg after heavy clashes, and that explosive experts are defusing dozens of booby-trapped houses and roadside bombs.
"The terrorists planted dozens of bombs in the houses and roads to cripple the advance of the troops, and we will take the needed time which won't be long to free the town," al-Zaiydi said.
On Saturday, al-Zaiydi told reporters that 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."
Meanwhile, Governor of Salahudin province Raid Ibrahim al- Jubouri told Xinhua that "taking control of Amerli, Sulaiman Beg and the surrounding main roads and villages, would be the beginning to free all Salahudin province, including the provincial capital city of Tikrit, from the Daash (the Islamic State)."
Also in Salahudin province, gunmen affiliated to the Islamic State group carried out two attacks from two directions against the town of Duluiyah, some 90 km north of Baghdad, but were repelled by local police and Sunni tribal fighters, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The several-hour clashes killed a total of 11 Islamic State militants and wounded two, along with destroying one of their vehicles that carried a heavy machine gun, the source said. During the past few weeks, al-Jubour tribal fighters in Duluiyah and the town's policemen have repelled many attacks by Islamic State militants who tried to capture the town.
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, clashes also broke out between Sunni militant groups, including the Islamic State, and security forces and their allied Shiite militias in al-Safra area, north of the provincial capital city Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua.
In one of the incidents, the Sunni militants discovered ambushes by Shiite militiamen, which prompted Sunni mortar firing on the ambush sites, leaving at least four Shiite militiamen killed and 11 others wounded. Meanwhile, four more militiamen were killed in a separate roadside bomb attack on their vehicle in the same area, the source said.
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.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- U.S. warplanes have conducted a fresh round of airstrikes and emergency aid drops at a new site in northern Iraq to protect civilians from offensive by the Islamic State (IS) militants, the Pentagon said in a statement late Saturday.
The airstrikes and humanitarian aid missions, carried out on Saturday, were flown near the town of Amirli, home to Turkoman, which has been cut off from food and water for nearly two months, according to the statement. Full story