IS steps up efforts to seize Kurdish town

Clashes between Islamist militants and Kurdish forces continue over town of Makhmur.

Clashes between Islamist militants and Kurdish forces continue over town of Makhmur.

MOSUL, Iraq – Islamic State militants have stepped up efforts to seize Kurdish-populated town of Makhmur in northern Iraq amid fierce clashes with Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

Since last Saturday, IS has moved north where battles between the Islamist fighters and Kurdistan Regional Government forces have taken place. 

 The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has called on all Kurdish armed groups in the region to unite against IS.

The call came after IS forces seized the towns of Sinjar and Rabia in Mosul province on Sunday. 

Some 300 PKK fighters reportedly took Makhmur refugee camp under protection in northern Iraq on Friday.

Peshmerga forces reportedly pulled back from Makhmur yesterday; however, security forces said the Kurdish fighters only withdrew from certain areas where the Iraqi Air Force was carrying out air strikes. 

In other developments, 25 IS militants were killed in clashes with Iraqi security forces in Anbar province on Friday, the head of Anbar's Provincial Council, Sabah Karhut, told Anadolu Agency.

 Karhut said that clashes erupted between security forces and IS militants while the insurgents were staging an attack on a power plant in Hadise town. 

 Two security forces and three tribesmen helping them were wounded in the fighting, said Karhut.

The Islamic State taking of Sinjar and Rabia towns on Sunday has forced thousands of Iraqis including Turkmen, Arabs, Christians and Ezidis to flee.

The violence in Iraq escalated in early June after a coalition of armed groups linked to the Islamic State took control of large swathes of the country's predominantly Sunni provinces.

The conflict between the army and militants entered a new stage in July when insurgents captured a number of key cities and towns in Iraq.

The Iraqi army has staged military operations against IS-led militants.

Around one million civilians have been displaced so far amid the ongoing clashes in the north and west of the country.

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