Iraqi troops make gains in battle to retake town

February 16, 2014 - 6:21:53 am

Protesters demanding the abolition of a law granting pensions to parliamentarians, in Kerbala, about 80km southwest of Iraqi capital Baghdad, yesterday. 

BAGHDAD: Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships fought yesterday to retake full control of a northern town from militants who overran parts of it earlier this week, the mayor and other local officials said.

Talib Mohammed, the mayor of Sulaiman Pek, 160 km north of Baghdad, said the army had met fierce resistance in some parts of the town, after gaining some ground on Friday.

“Snipers and roadside bombs are preventing the army from totally controlling the town,” he said. “A police captain was killed by a sniper this morning while he was trying to evacuate his family.”

Militants raised the black flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Sunni group also fighting in neighbouring Syria, over parts of Sulaiman Pek on Thursday. An army captain in Sulaiman Pek said snipers were hindering bomb disposal teams faced with dozens of explosive devices. REUTERS