BAGHDAD: Iraq's prime minister says his government has regained the initiative after the "shock" defeat of his security forces in the face of a lightning attack by Sunni militants in the country's north.
Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite who has been in office since 2006, said in a televised address Wednesday that the loss of a large swath of territory last week has helped Iraq restore its national unity.
Al-Maliki said: "But we were able to contain the strike and arrest deterioration. ... We have now started our counteroffensive, regaining the initiative and striking back."
Al-Maliki's upbeat assessment came as news broke of government forces regaining parts of a strategic city near the Syrian border that was captured Monday by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.