Kurdish forces repel IS attacks near Iraq's Mosul

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Kurdish security forces on Tuesday repelled attacks by Islamic State (IS) militants on towns and villages near the militant-seized city of Mosul in northern Iraq, a Kurdish security source told Xinhua.

IS militants carried out a pre-dawn attack on the Christian minority town of Tall Asquf, some 30 km north of Mosul, and managed to seize part of the town, while fierce clashes continued with the Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, and allied Christian paramilitary unit, the source said on condition of anonymity.

After fierce clashes with the attackers, the troops, backed by U.S.-led coalition aircraft, retook control of the town, while sporadic clashes continued with the extremist militants in small pockets, the source said.

Meanwhile, dozens of IS militants attacked Khazer area in northeast Mosul, which itself located some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, but the Kurdish troops repelled their offensive, killing and injuring a number of them, the source added.

Another IS attack targeted the Kurdish defensive lines near the town of Gwer in southeast of Mosul, but were also repelled by the Peshmerga, the source said without giving further details about casualties.

U.S.-led coalition aircraft provided air support to the troops in all battlefields, killing many of the attackers and destroying some of their vehicles, while a number of U.S. advisers are providing assistance to the troops on the ground, the source added.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. military said that one of its soldiers was killed by "direct fire" in northern Iraq.

IS militants frequently attacked the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga members outside Mosul and at the edges of the semi-autonomous northern region of Kurdistan.

On March 24, the troops have launched first phase of major offensive and recaptured several IS-held villages in south of Mosul, as part of their preparations to flush out IS militants from the city, the capital of Nineveh province.

According to Iraqi officials, the operations to free Mosul and other IS-held parts of Nineveh province will be carried out by the Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga, and U.S.-led coalition, with participation of paramilitary units from local volunteers, including Sunni Arab tribesmen.

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