Insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have successfully captured the Iraqi town of Zumar in addition to a nearby oil field after fighting with Kurdish forces who had control of the area, witnesses were quoted Sunday by Reuters news agency.
ISIS, which had a lightning advance through northern Iraq in June, warned residents in nearby villages along the border with Syria to leave their homes, suggesting they were planning an assault, witnesses said.
ISIS fighters killed 16 Kurdish troops in attacks in northern Iraq, while 30 pro-government forces died battling the jihadists on other frontlines, officials said Saturday.
ISIS fighters, who control Iraq's main northern city of Mosul, attacked a nearby dam and oil facility on Friday but Kurdish Peshmerga deployed in the area fought them off.
The jihadist fighters "attacked a Peshmerga post in Zumar (Friday) and a fierce battle erupted," an official in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan told AFP.
He said 14 Peshmerga fighters were killed there, a toll confirmed by a senior officer in the Kurdish force.
The PUK official said the Peshmerga killed "around 100" ISIS fighters and captured 38 in a battle that lasted several hours.
Zumar is a small Kurdish-majority outpost northwest of Mosul, which used to be under federal government control but was taken over by the Peshmerga in June.
ISIS fighters, who had already been running large swathes of neighboring Syria, launched a blistering offensive on June 9 that saw them capture Mosul, Iraq's second city, and move into much of the country's Sunni heartland.
Many government forces retreated in the face of the onslaught, and Peshmerga troops seized the opportunity to fill the vacuum and seize long-coveted areas the Kurds were in dispute with Baghdad over.
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