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Iraqi Forces, Kurds Retake IS-Besieged Town


A Shiite fighter takes aim while patrolling in Jurf al-Sakhar, Iraq, which Iraqi security forces retook from Islamic State militants, Oct. 25, 2014.

Iraqi forces, aided by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, said Saturday that they had secured a key town south of Baghdad after heavy fighting with Islamic State militants.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called the recapture of the town of Jurf al-Sakhar a "fatal blow" against the militants. Islamic State has threatened to take over Baghdad, and any loss of ground to Iraqi forces is a major setback.

Also Saturday, security sources said Iraqi Kurdish militia fighters retook a northern Iraqi town after fierce clashes with IS militants.

A Kurdish intelligence official said the fighters, known as the peshmerga, gained control of the town of Zumar and some surrounding villages after a wave of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on IS positions.

U.S. Central Command said coalition warplanes conducted 22 airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Iraq on Friday and Saturday. The strikes included attacks on a frequently targeted area near Mosul dam, the city of Fallujah and the northern city of Bayji, home of an oil refinery.

Officials said U.S. warplanes also destroyed an IS artillery piece near the besieged Syrian city of Kobani, near the Turkish border.

Kurdish fighters are in the second month of battling to maintain control of Kobani, known also as Ayn al-Arab, which has come under siege from IS fighters.

Some information for this report comes from Reuters.

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