Iraqi forces said on Sunday they retook two towns north of Baghdad from Islamic State fighters, driving them from strongholds they had held for months and clearing a main road from the capital to Iran.

There was no independent confirmation that the army, Shi’ite militia and Kurdish peshmerga forces had completely retaken Jalawla and Saadiya, about 115 km (70 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Many residents fled the violence long ago.

At least 23 peshmerga and militia fighters were killed and dozens were wounded in Sunday’s fighting, medical and army sources said. […]