Iraq army takes full control of key area near Baghdad

369444_Iraq-army-troopsThe Iraqi army, backed by thousands of tribal gunmen and volunteer forces, has retaken full control of a strategically important region from the Takfiri militants of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Iraqi army sources say the Khales area, which is around 55 kilometers from Baghdad, is now under their control. The area in Diyala province is regarded as the nearest point that the Takfiri militants could use to attack the capital.

Security sources also said ISIL flags have been removed from the houses that the militants used as bases. Army forces also captured an armed man in an area used by militants to store weapons.

The armed man had Saudi license plates with him. He was also found in possession of a book of inciting fatwas and some papers and certificates from the era of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The developments come as the United Nations says June has been the deadliest month in Iraq so far this year, with more than 2400 people killed in violence.

The UN mission to Iraq has said in a statement that the death toll includes over 1500 civilians and nearly 890 members of security forces. Over 2000 others have also been wounded.

The death toll is estimated to be higher since the UN stated that the figure does not take into account casualties in Anbar province, which is largely controlled by Takfiri militants.

Senior Muslim clerics have condemned the ISIL atrocities, including mass executions and rape.

Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki has stressed that his government remains steadfast in defeating the ISIL Takfiri militants, blaming Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some Arab states of the Persian Gulf for the growing terrorism in his country.

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