MOSUL, Iraq, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Kurdish security forces have freed nine villages in the northeast of the Islamic State (IS) major stronghold of Mosul on Sunday, a Kurdish security source said.
After heavy artillery shelling and U.S.-led air strikes on the IS positions, the Kurdish troops, known as Peshmerga, launched an attack at dawn on the villages scattered in the northeast of Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The extremist militants fought back with mortar shells and machine guns and detonated roadside bombs and booby-trapped cars, the source said.
But the Kurdish fighters with their armored vehicles managed to enter at least nine villages, despite continued clashes around other villages.
The battles have so far killed 47 IS militants and at least three Peshmerga members, with 15 others injured, the source said.
The Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces are now fighting to seize back positions around Mosul amid a major offensive to liberate the whole city.
Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, has been under IS control since June 2014, when the Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, giving opportunities for IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.