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Kurdish forces retake border town, villages from IS militants in northern Iraq

Kurdish security forces on Tuesday retook control of a border town with Syria and several others villages from the hands of the Islamic State (IS) militants after heavy clashes in northern Iraq, security sources said.

In Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, recaptured the strategic town of Rabia and its border crossing with Syria, along with several nearby villages, after fierce clashes with the IS militants, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Heavy clashes are still underway inside the town of Rabia, some 120 km west of the provincial capital city of Mosul, as many of the IS militants still fighting in the town's hospital building and a few other pockets, the source said.

Also in the province, at least 41 militants of the IS extremist group, an al-Qaida offshoot, were killed in clashes with the Peshmerga troops in Hiteen area in north of the militants-seized town of Sinjar, some 100 km west of Mosul, which itself located about 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the source said.

The advance of Peshmerga forces near Sinjar came after a heavy U.S.-led air strikes on the IS positions, the source said, adding that two Peshmerga members were killed and four others wounded.

In Kirkuk province, the Peshmerga troops, backed by a provincial police force, retook control of three villages near the town of Daqouq, just south of Kirkuk city, some 250 km north of Baghdad, after the troops carried out an offensive against the IS militants in the early hours of the day, a provincial security source anonymously told Xinhua.

Later in the day, the Peshmerga troops advanced to free another village near Daqouq and are fighting fierce clashes with the IS militants around the village, the source said.

The battles in Kirkuk resulted in the killing of three security members and the wounding of some 22 others, including a reporter of Rudaw Kurdish satellite channel, the source said without giving details about the IS casualties for the lack of immediate official reports.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-led air strikes hit IS positions near the al-Qaim border town with Syria and on the main road between the cities of Rawa and Aana in the western part of Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source told Xinhua without giving details about casualties as the bombed areas are under control of the IS militants.

The security situation began to drastically deteriorate in Iraq since June 10, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and hundreds of IS militants, who took control of the country's northern city of Mosul and later seized swathes of territories after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in Nineveh and other predominantly Sunni provinces.

[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 30Sep14]

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