Militants take two Iraqi towns in eastern Diyala province

Militants take two Iraqi towns in eastern Diyala province

BAQUBA - Reuters
Militants take two Iraqi towns in eastern Diyala province

An image downloaded on June 9, 2014 from the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) firing heavy machine guns during alleged fighting in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra. AFP Photo

Militants gained more ground in Iraq overnight, moving into two towns in the eastern province of Diyala after security forces abandoned their posts.

Security sources said the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawla had fallen to the insurgents, as well as several other villages around the Himreen mountains, which have long been a hideout for militants.

Kurdish peshmerga forces deployed more men to secure their political party offices in Jalawla before the insurgents arrived in the town. There were no confrontations between them.

The Iraqi army fired artillery at Saadiya and Jalawla from the nearby town of Muqdadiya, sending dozens of families fleeing towards Khaniqin near the Iranian border, security sources said.

Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overran the northern city of Mosul earlier this week and have since pressed south towards Baghdad in an onslaught against the Shiite-led government.

U.S. President Barack Obama threatened U.S. military strikes against the Sunni Islamist militants who want to establish their own state in Iraq and Syria.

The Kurds, who run their own autonomous region in the north, have taken the control of the oil-rich of Kirkuk and other areas outside the formal boundary of their enclave after the Iraqi army retreated.