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Kurdish forces retake villages from ISIS in northern Iraq

Kurdish forces backed by coalition airstrikes have driven Islamic State (ISIS) militants out of nine villages in northern Iraq, reclaiming an area of over 150 square kilometers (58 square miles) of land, the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) says in a statement.

The large-scale offensive, involving approximately 1,500 Peshmerga forces, was launched at 5:30 a.m. local time on Friday, killing at least 40 Islamic State fighters and driving the militants from areas south of Kirkuk.

"During the offensive, Peshmerga forces successfully took control of the strategic Dusera Heights, located South of Daquq, and an additional stretch of the Kirkuk-Baghdad Highway, further limiting ISIL's freedom of movements," the security council said in a press statement. It said coalition forces supported the offensive by carrying out dozens of airstrikes against ISIS positions.

Villages reclaimed from the Islamic State include Albu Mohammed, Albu Yusif, Smud, Dlati Bchuk, Dlati Gowra, Sab'nisan, Tl Raba', Zenqare and Gm Bus.

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