Iraq's military claims victories; U.S. sends aircraft carrier to Gulf

rbil, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's military claimed Saturday that it had regained key northern territories from extremist Sunni Muslim militants and asserted it remained strong and capable against the radicals who have suddenly destabilized the country, a military spokesman said.

Most of Salaheddin province has been returned to the control of Iraqi military, and security forces also took back territory on the edges of Nineveh province, Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta said.

But his account conflicted with security officials in Baghdad and Samarra who told CNN that 60% to 70% of Salaheddin province remains in control of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the extreme Sunni group. It also controls an oil refinery in Baiji, officials said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush into the Persian Gulf from the North Arabian Sea.

The order gives U.S. President Barack Obama "additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement Saturday.

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