14:33 GMT24 February 2020
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    Kurdish Peshmerga forces, backed by a US-led coalition airstrike campaign, have retaken 10 villages from self-proclaimed Islamic State militants in the Kirkuk province on Wednesday.

    The move marks a significant victory for the Peshmerga, as the frontline between the Kurdish and Islamic State fighters has barely changed in months. The Kurds, who took over the disputed city of Kirkuk last summer after the Iraqi army abandoned their posts, have full control of the province with the exception of some western parts under Islamic State rule.

    In an effort to secure their region, the Kurdish Peshmerga has launched several offensives to create a buffer between them and Islamic State held territory.

    The recent offensive began in early hours of the morning in the Daquq area, roughly 110 miles north of the Iraqi capital city Baghdad, Peshmerga sources told Reuters. The Kurdish forces were quick to push Islamic State militants from the village of Albu Najm. Intense fighting continued until the evening, by the end of which, the Peshmerga took control of a 155 square mile area.

    "This area [near Daquq] posed a danger to the main road from Kirkuk to Baghdad and the Kurdish and other villages adjacent to the areas occupied by Daesh," Brigadier General Aras Abdel Rahman told Reuters, referring to the Islamic State by the Arabic name.

    Sources also told Reuters that five Peshmerga fighters and an aide to a top Kurdish commander were killed in the offensive. Most of them were killed by improvised explosive devices.

    Peshmerga forces, who have secured Kirkuk and plan to maintain control of the disputed area, have emerged as important allies to the US’s efforts in fighting the Islamic State. They have worked together to push back the terror group from northern Iraq.

    Related:

    Peshmerga Fighters Take Key Ridgeline in Iraq - US Central Command
    IS Launches New Offensive in Iraq, Clashes With Peshmerga Forces
    US to Arm Kurdish Peshmerga Amid ISIS Offensive
    Tags:
    Daesh, Aras Abdel Rahman, Iraq, Kirkuk
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