Kurdish forces free 7 villages in Iraq from ISIS

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire towards Islamic State militants south of Daquq, north of Baghdad August 26, 2015. (File photo: Reuters)

Western-backed Kurdish fighters freed seven villages from the clasps of ISIS in northern Iraq in recent days, the U.S.-led coalition battling the militants said Friday.

But the extremists still control broad swathes of land in the war-torn country, where ISIS has waged a terrifying offensive of forced religious conversions and beheadings.

Bolstered by coalition airstrikes, the Peshmerga fighters wrestled back more than 200 square kilometers (80 square miles) near the town of Tuz since August 26, the Combined Joint Task Force said.

Planes and drones conducted a total of 25 strikes, helping the Kurdish forces in “liberating seven villages,” a statement said.

Elsewhere in Iraq, the situation remains more static, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command (Centcom) said.

In Ramadi, capital of the key battleground province of Anbar, Iraqi forces continue to try and isolate the city, which fell into IS hands in May.

“It remains a challenging fight” said Centcom spokesman Colonel Patrick Ryder.

Meanwhile in the Baiji area north of Baghdad, where fierce fighting has lasted for months, Iraqi forces “continue to hold their ground” at an oil refinery that has been scene of much fighting.

Within the city of Baiji itself ISIS has taken “back some ground but they paid a very heavy price for it.”

Overall, Iraqi forces “are dealing with some tough challenges in certain areas,” Ryder said, but ISIS is under pressure to allocate its resources and “continues to lose fighters and leaders at a high rate.”

On Thursday, two suicide attacks claimed by ISIS killed two Iraqi generals in Anbar.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46