Last updated: 26 April, 2013

Iraqi forces enter town after gunmen leave

Iraqi security forces began moving back into a northern town on Friday after gunmen who seized it two days ago made an agreed withdrawal, officials said.

The gunmen pulled out of Sulaiman Bek in Salaheddin province early in the day under a deal worked out by tribal chiefs and government officials, local official Shalal Abdul Baban and municipal council deputy chief Ahmed Aziz said.

The gunmen swarmed into the predominantly Sunni Turkmen town on Wednesday after deadly clashes with the security forces, who pulled back in the face of the offensive as residents fled.

Army Staff General Ali Ghaidan Majeed told AFP on Thursday that the gunmen had been given 48 hours to withdraw or face attack.

Majeed said at the time that intelligence information indicated there were about 175 gunmen in Sulaiman Bek — 25 allegedly from Al-Qaeda, and 150 from the Naqshbandiya Army, another Sunni militant group.

The gunmen’s seizure of Sulaiman Bek came during a bloody wave of violence that killed more than 180 people in three days.