The campaign against the terrorist group ISIS claimed a victory Saturday, after ISIS militants were driven from two Iraqi towns.
The Iraqi army retook the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, which is 30 miles south of Baghdad, from ISIS control Saturday. In the north of the country, Kurdish Peshmerga forces announced ISIS had been driven out of Zumar, a town near Mosul, on the same day.
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi celebrated the news in a Facebook post as "a strong blow" to ISIS. A representative for the Kurdistan Democratic Party estimated the Peshmerga killed 81 ISIS fighters in the battle over Zumar.
Both of those operations were partially supported by airstrikes from the international anti-ISIS coalition — U.S. Central Command reports ISIS was targeted by 22 strikes in Iraq across Friday and Saturday.
It's the latest encouraging news for the countries and organization fighting to dismantle ISIS, whose rapid advance across Iraq and Syria has been gradually stymied in recent weeks.
ISIS's momentum began to slow during their bid to capture the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria, which continues to hold its ground against ISIS advances despite grim predictions it would fall to the militant group. (Video via The Telegraph)
But despite recent victories against ISIS, Iraq's security forces are still months away from mounting a counter-offensive to reclaim the vast swathes of territory ISIS seized, according to U.S. officials.
Retaking Zumar gives Kurdish fighters a springboard to assault the neighboring town of Sinjar, while the Iraqi army might be able use their recent gains to attack ISIS forces in Anbar province.