Al-Qaeda militants in Iraq have seized control of a village in the restive province of Diyala after a two-day battle with a rival Sunni insurgent group, police said on Wednesday.
Dozens of fighters from the Islamist extremist group arrived in boats on Monday and launched an attack on Al-Shuan village on the banks of the Diyala river, police Lieutenant Colonel Ibrahim al-Obeidi said.
Members of the rival Brigades of the 1920 Revolution fought back but the Sunni Arab village eventually fell to the Al-Qaeda militants.
Obeidi said the village had been attacked after its 300 or so inhbitants refused to align with Al-Qaeda in its fight against Iraqi and US security forces.
"Al-Qaeda militants attacked the village two days ago and took control of it yesterday," said Obeidi.
Quoting villagers who escaped the assault, Obeidi said seven of the 30 houses in the village had been destroyed but he gave no casualty figures.
Many Sunni militants of the Brigades of the 1920 Revolution, an insurgent group formed to fight US forces in Iraq, have now joined with US and Iraqi troops to fight Al-Qaeda in Sunni Arab areas of Iraq.
They also offer protection to vulnerable Sunni Arab villages under threat from Al-Qaeda as it seeks recruits for its anti-American insurgency.
Diyala, the second most dangerous region in Iraq after Baghdad, has been the focus in the past few months of a concerted military crackdown by US and Iraqi troops.
According to US military commanders, dozens of fighters linked to Al-Qaeda have been killed or captured in the operation.