Kurdish Peshmerga forces say they have recaptured a strategic village in northern Iraq from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Sources told Al Jazeera on Friday that at least three Peshmerga fighters died when the group captured the village of Sultan Abd’Allah, just 80km away from the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Erbil, said fighters had engaged in house-to-house battles with ISIL fighters in the village, demonstrating the lengths to which the group had to go in countering ISIL.
“One commander said the group had limited firepower, and were fighting with old AK-47s and that their other weapons were from the Iran-Iraq war 25 years ago,” our correspondent said.
Sultan Abd’Allah is on the banks of the Tigris river, and a highway to Mosul passes through the village.
The Kurds are determined to keep hold of the village, because losing it would mean opening up Erbil to a possible ISIL invasion.
It comes as a group of Yazidi fighters attacked a key village on the Iraqi-Syrian border, Peshmerga sources told Al Jazeera.
Peshmerga forces said the Yazidi fighters launched the attack, near the town of Rabia, on Friday because they were looking for girls and women abducted by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Yazidi killed an unknown number of people and took many others away, including a local Imam.
The Peshmerga sources told Al Jazeera that had not known about the Yazidi’s plan to attack the village, and were unhappy the group had acted unilaterally.
Hundreds of Yazidi fighters are assisting the Peshmerga in their operation against ISIL in and around the Sinjar mountains.
US-led air strikes
A renewed push by ISIL in the north in August drove Kurdish forces back towards the capital of their autonomous region, helping to spark a US-led campaign of air strikes against ISIL.
That effort has since been expanded to training for Iraqi forces aimed at preparing them as quickly as possible to join the fight against ISIL.
Iraqi soldiers and police, Kurdish forces, Shia militias and Sunni tribesmen have succeeded in regaining some ground from ISIL. But large parts of the country, including three major cities, remain outside Baghdad’s control.
Violence in Iraq killed more than 15,000 civilians and security personnel in 2014, government figures released on Thursday showed, making it one of the deadliest years since the 2003 US-led invasion. Al Jazeera