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Iraq PM Orders Air Force To Back Kurds Fighting Islamists

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ordered the air force to provide support to Kurdish Peshmerga forces battling Islamist militants in the north of the country.

The move on August 4 comes amid recent tensions between authorities in the Kurdish autonomous region and the government.

Kurdish officials have not yet responded to the offer.

Kurdish officials said the Peshmerga forces are planning a counteroffensive after Islamic State militants captured key towns in the north during the weekend.

On August 3, the Islamic State captured the city of Sinjar and two smaller towns -- its most significant gains since it seized swathes of northern and western Iraq two months earlier.

Kurdish media said Peshmerga forces on August 4 reestablished control over one of the smaller towns, Zumar.

The Islamic State boasted the same day that it was poised to seize more territory in northern Iraq. The militant group also said it captured dozens of Kurdish prisoners during clashes with Peshmerga.

The Islamic State was formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).


Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and the BBC

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