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Kurds Recapture Iraq Oil Fields, Advance on Rebel-Held Towns

Kurdish and Iraqi forces recaptured two oil fields and mounted an offensive to retake the town of Zummar, part of a broader bid to recover areas of the country’s north lost to Islamic State fighters.

Kurdish fighters, known as Peshmerga, retook Ain Zala and Batma oil fields in northern Iraq, Hisham al-Brefkani, head of the energy committee of Nineveh provincial council, said by phone today. Islamic State militants set fire to a crude oil storage tank as they tried to halt the advance, al-Brefkani said, denying earlier reports that two oil wells were set on fire. Kurdish forces also took control of several villages around Zummar, he said.

Kurdish forces, which recaptured Iraq’s largest dam earlier this month with the help of U.S. airstrikes, are fighting to reassert control over territory lost to the al-Qaeda breakaway group in the past two months. They’re using weapons provided by Iran and the U.S., and expect to receive arms from Italy, too. Germany, meanwhile, has cleared the way to supply weapons to Iraqi troops.

The Islamic State has captured chunks of northern Iraq and parts of neighboring Syria in an effort to establish an Islamic caliphate erasing the borders between the two states. The group, which evolved from al-Qaeda in Iraq, has made recent advances in Syria, seizing an air base and dislodging forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from their last stronghold in the northeastern Raqqa province. The group is also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL or ISIS.

In Syria, the Islamic State killed 120 captured soldiers in the past day, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors daily developments in the three-year civil war.

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