Iraqi Kurdish forces retake town from ISIS

Kurdish fighters guard in the street in the Iraqi town of Qara Tappa north of Baghdad, October 21, 2014.

Kurdish fighters guard in the street in the Iraqi town of Qara Tappa north of Baghdad, October 21, 2014.

Iraqi Kurdish forces on Saturday retook the northern town of Zumar from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremists after weeks of fighting, a senior officer said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces have retaken most of the town of Jurf al-Sakhar near Baghdad from ISIS militants, the biggest gains in months of fighting for the strategic area, senior local officials said on Saturday.

“We have managed to push out Islamic State terrorists from the town of Jurf al-Sakhar today and now we are raising the Iraqi flag over the government offices,” Reuters quoted provincial governor Sadiq Madloul as saying.

Major General Karim Atuti of the Peshmerga security forces told AFP that“ after clashes that began this morning and with American air support, we were able to force (ISIS) militants from the center” of Zumar and 11 surrounding villages.

Zumar is located some 60 kilometers northwest of Mosul, the first city to fall in an ISIS offensive in June.

Sparking offensive

Federal troops withdrew from Zumar, and Peshmerga forces occupied it. But ISIS drove them out during a new campaign in August, pushing them back toward regional capital Erbil.

That helped to spark an U.S.-led air campaign in Iraq that now involves several countries and has been expanded to Syria.

Kurdish forces have since regained some ground, but it has been slow going, and ISIS still holds significant areas in northern Iraq and elsewhere in the country.

Despite heavy fighting still ahead in Iraq, the Kurds plan to deploy up to 200 Peshmerga to help defend Kobane in neighboring Syria, a Kurdish border town under assault by ISIS.

 
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