Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships regained ground in the northern town of Sulaiman Pek on Friday, a day after parts of it were overrun by Sunni Islamist insurgents, the mayor said.

At least 12 militants were killed by the army, according to the town’s mayor, Talib Mohammed, who identified the militants as members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“The army is making good progress in the town,” he said. “We have to admit it’s not an easy job as snipers and roadside bombs planted by militants are forcing military forces to be slow and vigilant.”