Saturday 22 November 2014

Kurdish forces retake Iraqi towns

Published 10/08/2014 | 01:00

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take cover during airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants near Irbil (AP)
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take cover during airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants near Irbil (AP)
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community settle at the camp of Bajid Kandala (AP)
President Barack Obama at the White House briefing where he made the case for US airstrikes in Iraq (AP)

Kurdish forces have retaken two towns from the Sunni militants that have seized large parts of northern Iraq, according to a military official.

Kurdish fighters were able to push the militants of the Islamic State group out of the villages of Makhmour and al-Gweir.

The retaking of the two towns in Nineveh province is significant because it is the first victory by the Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, that until now have been in retreat.

Radical Sunni fighters seized Mosul in June and then went on to take even more towns, sending tens of thousands of minorities fleeing into the Kurdish-controlled region.

The United States announced a fourth round of airstrikes on Sunday against militant vehicles and mortars firing on Irbil as part of its small-scale series of attacks meant to discourage the Sunni fighters from endangering US personnel near the Kurdish capital.

During a visit to Baghdad, France's foreign minister said that Paris will provide "several tons" of aid to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and called upon leaders in Baghdad to unite against Sunni militants who have seized large parts of the country.

Speaking at a press conference with Iraq's acting Foreign Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, Laurent Fabius said his visit is aimed at boosting humanitarian efforts in northern Iraq, where tens of thousands of minority Yazidis have fled into the mountains and even into neighbouring Syria to escape the extremist Islamic State group.

Britain said its air force has already dropped water containers and solar lanterns over the Sinjar mountains where the Yazidis have taken refuge with little food and water.

US fighter jets and drones have also attacked militants firing on the Yazidis around Sinjar, which is in the far west of the country near the Syrian border.

After Kurdish fighters opened a path to the border, thousands of Yazidis have been pouring across the river into Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria.

Press Association

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