Kurdish militia fighters in Iraq's Kurdish region have launched an offensive as part of the effort to capture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.
The August 14 offensive began shortly after a campaign of intense artillery shelling and air strikes by the U.S.-led international coalition.
A commander for the Peshmerga, the armed forces of Iraq's Kurdish region, said six villages had been captured in the first hours of the offensive.
Mosul, some 400 kilometers north of Baghdad, is the largest urban area under IS control and is considered the group's de facto capital.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has vowed to retake the city by the end of this year.