Baghdad, March 3 (IANS): Iraqi security forces on Tuesday recaptured a town in Salahudin as part of a major offensive to free the northern parts of the province, including Saddam Hussain's hometown of Tikrit.
The troops and allied Sunni and Shia militias, assisted by air support, freed the town of Himreen, a security officer told Xinhua.
The IS militants fled the town after a heavy clash that killed at least three of them, while five security members were injured, the officer said, adding that the troops also foiled two suicide bomb attacks - one by a booby-trapped tanker truck and another by a Humvee vehicle.
The liberation of Himreen is part of a major offensive launched on Monday from five directions aimed at recapturing key cities and towns seized by the IS in the province.
The troops, backed by armoured vehicles and Iraqi aircraft, have surrounded the town of Dour, some 25 km south of Tikrit, and regained control of many villages north of Samarra, some 120 km north of Baghdad.
The forces are advancing cautiously as the IS militants have planted the roads and buildings with bombs. Explosion experts defused over 150 bombs and eight car bombs.
Large parts of Salahudin province have been under IS control since June 11, a day after violent clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the IS terror group, which took control of the country's northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territories in Nineveh and other predominant Sunni provinces.