Daesh militants pushed through a gap in the Iraqi army frontline on Thursday to capture a northern village, according to Reuters, demonstrating the group's continued reach after a major defeat in the west.
The attacks on Tal Kusaiba took place approximitely 35 km east of Tikrit, killing the police station chief and five Shia militia fighters, according to local sources.
Pro-government forces have been pushing north along the Tigris River for nearly a year, retaking Tikrit from Daesh fighters in April and then driving them out of Baiji, in October. The army hopes to continue north to recapture Mosul, known as the Daesh stronghold.
Maintaining control over areas outside major population centers can be more difficult. An attack this far south demonstrates Daesh's continued reach, not long after the government claimed victory in the city of Ramadi.
According to Laith Hameed, a senior official in the Alam area, "Daesh exploited a weak spot in the Himrin (mountain) area that is not under control of the (Iraqi) forces and attacked Kusaiba village with 10 vehicles, including Humvees."
The militants seized government buildings and a police station, he added.
Iraq's military launched air strikes against Daesh in the village, while security forces were regrouping in Alam preparing to counterattack.
Daesh, seized large areas of northern and western Iraq in 2014, claimed responsibility for suicide attacks that killed more than 40 people in Baghdad and Diyala. Officials view this move as a response to their losses in Ramadi.
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