Iraqi forces have mounted their biggest operation since June, reclaiming two towns in the eastern province of Diyala from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters.
In the province’s south on Sunday, Iraqi troops and Shia militias retook the town of Sa’adiya and were moving towards nearby villages.
In the north, Kurdish Peshmerga forces retook the town of Jawlala and were securing the area.
The two towns were considered key support centres for ISIL, which swept through the area in June.
“Those victories have not just happened; instead, they were the results of strategic changing from defence to attack,” political analyst Salam al-Zubadi told the Associated Press news agency.
Hospital sources told Al Jazeera that 79 ISIL fighters were killed in the operation, along with 18 Iraqi troops and Shia militia members, in addtion to 10 Peshmerga fighters. Dozens more were injured.
Meanwhile, a new report [Arabic] released by the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies has found that a military campaign against ISIL will not be successful and will not bring peace and stability to the region.
In the short term, there is a high risk of political and geographic fragmentation of Syria and Iraq, the report said.
A lasting solution must involve curbing support within the local Sunni community for ISIL and promoting security and stability within the region, the report noted.
“It is a gross error to assume that ISIL emerged in a complete vacuum from the region’s repressive political context,” said the Centre’s Fatima Al Samdi, who compiled the report.
“ISIL’s harsh and violent methods are not at all at odds with prevailing structural-institutional violence in Arab nations and societies,” she said. “It is very important to study this new political actor within the framework of existing authoritarian and sectarian violence in the Arab world.”