Kurds, Islamic State clash near Kurdish regional capital

Posted: August 6, 2014 in World News
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Kurdish forces attacked Islamic State fighters on Wednesday just
40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil in northern Iraq, a senior Kurdish official told Reuters.

The attack came after Islamic State militants inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Kurds on Sunday with a rapid advance through three towns, prompting Iraq’s prime minister to order his air force for the first time to back the Kurdish forces.

“We have changed our tactics from being defensive to being offensive. Now we are clashing with the Islamic State in Makhmur,” said Jabbar Yawar,
secretary-general of the ministry of the Kurdish peshmerga fighters.

The location of the clashes puts the Islamic State militants closer than they have ever been to the
Kurdish semi-autonomous region since they swept through northern Iraq almost unopposed in June.

Shortly after that lightning advance, thousands of U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers fled. Kurdish fighters, who often boast of their battles with Saddam Hussein’s forces, stepped in as did Iranian-trained Shi’ite militias.

Yawar said the Kurds had re-established military cooperation with Baghdad. Ties had been strained between the Kurdish leadership and the Shi’ite-led
government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki over oil, budgets and land.

But the dramatic weekend offensive by the Sunni militants – who seized more towns, a fifth oilfield and Iraq’s biggest dam – prompted them to bury their differences.


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