Kurdish forces retook two towns from the Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Iraq on Sunday as the U.S. military continued to launch airstrikes against targets of the extremist group, local media reported.
"The (Kurdish) Peshmerga forces and counter-terrorism team in cooperation with the Kurdistan Workers' Party seized full control of Makhmour district," local Kurdish media news website quoted a Kurdish anti-terrorism commander as saying.
The Peshmerga troops also seized control of Gwer, some 40 km southwest of Arbil, capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, after they defeated the IS insurgents earlier on Sunday, the report said.
Gwer and Makhmour had been taken by the IS militants days earlier this week, posing an imminent threat to the Kurdish capital.
The U.S. military on Saturday continued to launch four airstrikes against the extremist Sunni militants, who were previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in northern Iraq, U.S. Department of Defense said via its official Twitter account.
The first strike, carried out by a mix of U.S. fighters and remotely piloted aircraft, destroyed an armored personnel carrier (APC) of IS that was firing on Yazidi civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar.
U.S. aircraft launched two more strikes that destroyed two IS APCs and an armed truck nearby, the U.S. central command said, adding that U.S. aircraft destroyed another APC in the area of Sinjar in a fourth strike.
U.S. President Barack Obama said earlier Saturday that the targeted airstrikes in Iraq could continue for some time, but refused to give a particular timetable, saying "I don't think we are going to solve this problem in weeks."
He warned that the new campaign to bring security in Iraq requires military and political changes and "is going to be a long- term project." But he made clear that his administration would not send ground troops back to Iraq.
Iraq has been plagued with violence for years since the U.S.- led occupation of the country, but the situation has deteriorated dramatically with the spillover of violence from the raging conflict in neighboring Syria. The al-Qaida-linked IS, a regional armed Islamist militia fighting in Syria, has gained significant ground in Iraq, especially in the Sunni areas. Over recent days, the IS militants stormed towns in the northern part of Iraq in its advances to other parts of the country.