Iraqi rebels renew bid to take over key town of Dhuluiyah

The militants negotiated with tribesmen in Al Jubur, a lone area of the town still holding out, offering to spare the lives of their fighters and security forces if they surrendered.

By (AP)

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Published: Tue 15 Jul 2014, 9:25 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:21 AM

Militants on Monday assaulted the final area of the Iraqi town of Dhuluiyah still outside their control, after tribesmen rejected an offer to let them enter uncontested, an official said.

Militants launched a major offensive on June 9 that has overrun large areas north and west of Baghdad, and appear to be making a renewed push to gain ground after a period in which battle lines were relatively static.

The militants began their attack on Dhuluiyah, just 80 kilometres north of Baghdad, on Sunday and have overrun most of the town, local official Marwan Mitaab said.

The militants negotiated with tribesmen in Al Jubur, a lone area of the town still holding out, offering to spare the lives of their fighters and security forces if they surrendered, Mitaab said.

But the tribesmen rejected the offer, and insurgents on Monday launched a renewed assault on the area in southern Dhuluiyah.

A resident also said the fighting was ongoing and that Al Jubur was the last area that has yet to fall.

A senior police officer confirmed there had been negotiations with the militants, and added that people were fleeing across the Tigris river in boats. The militants demolished a bridge across the river on Sunday, and also blew up police stations, a courthouse and the main municipality building.

Meanwhile, a car bomb killed at least seven people in a commercial area of central Baghdad on Monday.

The explosion took place in Baghdad’s Allawi neighbourhoodnear the Green Zone that is home to many government offices and foreign embassies, a police officer said. At least 12 civilians were wounded in the blast.

He said the casualties could have been much worse, but the area was not crowded early Monday because of a state holiday to commemorate the 1958 Revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

Baghdad has seen several small scale bombings, but no major attacks, since Sunni militants launched an offensive last month that has since overrun much of northern and western Iraq. The blitz has caused jitters in Baghdad, where Shia militias have joined security forces in recent weeks to try to boost security in the capital. — Agencies

The Sunni militant advances, which are led by the Islamic State extremist group, has slowed since its initial rapid expansion, but on Sunday the insurgents swept into the town of Duluiyah, some 80 kilometres north of Baghdad. They seized the mayor’s office, police station, local council and courthouse. They also blew up a bridge that links the town with the predominantly Shiite city of Balad nearby.

The Iraqi military launched a counterattack that drove the militants from part of the town. But on Monday the militants were still inside key government offices and sporadic clashes took place, a police and an army officers said.


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