ISIL jihadists blow up bridge as Iraq forces gain ground in east
KIRKUK, Iraq - Agence France-Presse
German military experts instruct Kurdish Peshmerga fighters during training at a shooting range on October 2, 2014, in Arbil.Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) fighters blew up a key bridge on Oct. 3 in Iraq's Salaheddin province as they retreated in the face of an offensive by pro-government forces, officials said.
Iraqi troops, Kurdish peshmerga forces and Shiite militias have been pushing west from the city of Tuz Khurmatu since Thursday.
"At 5:00 am (0200 GMT), peshmerga and Iraqi forces attacked several areas, going from Tuz Khurmatu towards Tikrit, to reach Zerga bridge, a strategic link between the two," Mullah Karim Shukur, a senior official in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party, said.
"During this advance, retreating ISIL forces blew up the bridge and left dozens of bodies behind," he said.
Shallal Abdul, the mayor of Tuz Khurmatu, said five villages had been wrested back from the jihadists on Thursday and four more on Friday before reaching the bridge over a tributary of the Tigris.
"They are going to retake all the areas under ISIL control, they fled leaving bodies behind," he told AFP.
Tikrit, executed former president Saddam Hussein's hometown, has been under ISIL control since the first days of the major offensive the jihadists launched in Iraq four months ago.
The Iraqi army has tried and failed to recapture it several times.
Security sources said warplanes carried out strikes on ISIL targets north of Tuz Khurmatu, near Taza, on Friday.
A senior police officer from Kirkuk province said 16 jihadists were killed in the strike, although the figure could not be immediately verified.