Daesh militants attacked Kurdish peshmerga forces on multiple fronts in northern Iraq on Tuesday, breaching their defenses and briefly taking over a town, military sources said.
The attacks around the northern city of Mosul are the largest against Kurdish forces in recent months by the insurgents, who have been losing ground to an array of forces in the north and west of the country.
The head of a Christian militia said the insurgents had overrun their positions at dawn around the town of Tel Asqof, 20 km (12 miles) north of Mosul, and occupied it until being beaten back with the help of air strikes from a U.S.-led coalition.
“There were many suicide bombers and suicide car bombs,” said Safa Eliyas, the head of the Nineveh Protection Forces, which are deployed alongside the peshmerga in the area.
There were also attacks on the Bashiqa front and in the Khazer area, about 40 km (25 miles) west of the Kurdish regional capital Erbil.
“Daesh launched multiple attacks on Peshmerga front lines, including on the Bashik front,” said Hameed Afandy, the Peshmerga commander on the front.
He said that a pair of car bombings on the Bashik front had wounded two Kurdish soldiers. Daesh has staged frequent but failed assaults to try to break through Peshmerga lines at Bashik.
In Tel Skuf, two Daesh suicide attackers detonated their explosives but failed to inflict Peshmerga casualties. On the Khazir front, fighting was ongoing for more than three hours.
Daesh fighters killed a member of the U.S. armed forces in northern Iraq on Tuesday, when they pushed through a forward line of Iraqi Kurdish forces, officials said.
The death occurred around 9:30 a.m., when enemy forces penetrated the front lines of the Kurdish peshmerga militias, which are fighting alongside the coalition against the Daesh.
He is the third American killed in direct combat since a U.S.-led coalition launched a campaign against the jihadist group in 2014.
“It is a combat death, of course, and a very sad loss. I don’t know all the circumstances of it,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters during a trip to Germany,
The US coalition provided air support to the Peshmerga on the ground, and 15 Daesh corpses were retrieved by the Peshmerga, military officials said.
Since the United States intervened to blunt Daesh’s advance on Erbil in August 2014, the peshmerga have driven the militants back in the north. The militants are rarely able to penetrate Kurdish defenses.
Peshmerga Secretary General Jabbar Yawar said details of the offensives were still unclear, but they constituted the biggest attacks in recent months.
“The battles are ongoing,” he said.