TIKRIT, Iraq, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces on Thursday freed the village of Imam Gharbi in Salahudin province from Islamic State (IS) militants, who seized the village about two weeks ago.
A joint force from the Iraqi army, Salahudin's provincial police and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi unit launched an operation in the early morning on the village near the town of Shirqat, some 280 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Lt. Col. Kareem Aboud from Salahudin security forces told Xinhua.
The troops, backed by the army's helicopter gunships, freed the village after fierce clashes with IS militants who were holed up in some houses on the village, leaving at least eight militants killed, while the helicopters killed many others when they chased the IS vehicles running away from the scene, Aboud said.
The troops started a search campaign in the village looking for possible hiding militants and defused many roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings, Aboud added.
Imam Gharbi village, which located near the border line between the province of Salahudin and the northern province of Nineveh, was seized by IS militants earlier in the month, when dozens of militants came from the desert area on July 6 and took control of it.
Since then, sporadic clashes occurred to regain control of the village, which also resulted in the killing of two Iraqi journalists who were covering the battles in the village.
The recapture of the village came after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on July 10 officially declared Mosul liberated from IS after nearly nine months of fierce fighting to dislodge the extremist militants from their last major stronghold in Iraq.