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Kurdish forces retake villages and territory from ISIS in major offensive

Kurdish forces backed by coalition airstrikes have driven Islamic State (ISIS) militants from eight villages in northern Iraq and reclaimed an area of over 140 square kilometers (54 square miles), the U.S.-led Combined Joint Task Force reports.

The large-scale offensive by Peshmerga fighters began early on Wednesday morning and focused on an area west of Kirkuk. "Peshmerga fighters successfully penetrated Daesh (ISIS) defensive positions, cleared fighters, liberated eight villages, and re-established government control over approximately 140 square kilometers between Huwayjah and Kirkuk," the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement.

Coalition aircraft carried out more than 50 airstrikes over the past few days to set favorable conditions for Wednesday's ground offensive.

"The Peshmerga fighters continue to reduce Daesh's initial gains in northern Iraq. This was another important fight in the overall effort to degrade and ultimately defeat Daesh," said coalition spokesman Col. Christopher Garver.

Over the last six months, Peshmerga forces have retaken some 670 square kilometers (258 square miles) of land from Islamic State forces in a series of large-scale offenses.

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