File photo of Peshmerga in Jalawla.
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region - Peshmerga forces evicted the Islamic State (ISIS) and took control of the town of Jalawla in northern Diyala on Sunday, following battles that left several Kurdish soldiers dead.
“All of Jalawla is under the control of Peshmerga forces,” a Kurdish commander declared.
But Colonel Hikmat Lawrani said the Kurds had suffered several casualties. “A number of Peshmerga were martyred by planted bombs,” he said.
A Peshmerga officer who survived an explosion told Rudaw that three of his fellow soldiers were killed by a bomb as his unit was securing a house.
The Peshmerga victory in Jalawla followed a major major assault on the militants.
ISIS militants were seen on the retreat, evacuating the lost town and fleeing toward the Sirwan river and the Qaraj mountains.
Earlier Sunday, Peshmerga forces seized control of five of the town’s neighborhoods and the two nearby villages of Sayid Ahmed and Sayid Jabir. They also said they had taken the stronghold of Tawhid.
A Kurdish commander said that parts of the town were packed with bombs left behind by ISIS and that special bomb disposal teams have been brought in to defuse them.
The major attack to retake Jalawla began on the ground following heavy bombardment of ISIS positions in and around the town by coalition fighter jets and Peshmerga artillery.
Kurdish forces have been battling ISIS around Jalawla for more than three months, after the town fell to the radical group in June following the collapse of the Iraqi army.
Meanwhile, over the past three days Peshmerga forces have advanced in areas south of Kirkuk, particularly in Kharabarut village, where they killed and captured a number of ISIS militants.
In addition, Ammar Hikmat, deputy governor of Tikrit, announced that Iraqi forces had launched an assault on ISIS on the strategic Baghdad-Samarra road.
“The Iraqi security forces attacked the ISIS bases close to the main road between Baghdad and Samara, and the road is open now,” Hikmat said.
The road is strategic because it lies between Samara, Balad, Tikrit and Dujail. The town of Dibsis has also been liberated, he added.
“the ISIS militants have planted mines in the majority of the homes in Beiji town” Hikmat said, adding that special bomb disposal teams had been brought in.