Islamic State militants mass near another town north of Baghdad
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group militants are massing near the Iraqi town of Qara Tappa, 122 km (73 miles) north of Baghdad, security sources and a local official said, in an apparent bid to broaden their front with Kurdish peshmerga fighters, Reuters reported.
The Sunni militants have made a dramatic push through the north to a position near Arbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
The movement around Qara Tappa suggests they are getting more confident and seeking to grab more territory closer to the capital after stalling in that region.
Meanwhile, a local health official said four children have died in clashes between Sunni militants and Iraqi soldiers west of Baghdad, the Associated Press reported.
Hospital director Ahmed Shami says the fighting took place early on Thursday on the northern outskirts of the city of Fallujah, which has been in the hands of the Islamic State group since early January.
Shami says at least 10 militants and a woman were also killed. He had no details about the clashes beyond saying that the bodies of the victims were brought to his hospital.
Along with Fallujah – which is 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) controls large swaths of the country’s north and west.
The militants’ offensive has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the 2011 pullout of U.S. troops.