Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces are continuing their advance towards Iraq's Mosul province, capturing at least 60 Iraqi villages last month, an Iraqi commander has said.
At least 300 ISIL militants were killed and scores of ISIL vehicles captured in clashes between the pershmerga and ISIL militants, according to Colonel Z. Sheikh Vasani, a peshmerga commander on the Mahmur front.
"We are fighting with weapons sent by France and Germany. We took control of at least 60 villages around the Al Mahmur district. We can carry out an operation on Mosul if our superiors command it," Vasani said.
He said that peshmerga forces drew 40 km closer to Mosul, which largely remains under ISIL control.
Peshmerga forces, who have taken control of the Rabia and Zumar districts, were preparing "a major operation" to retake control in Iraq's Sinjar region, the commander said.
Ali Avni Shingal, district head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, and Iraqi Ezidi MP Mahma Khalil also confirmed that peshmerga forces were mobilizing -- on the orders of Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani -- to take control of the Sinjar district that ISIL militants captured on August 3.
"Security forces were deployed 17 km away from the Sinjar region. With the help of U.S. air support, armed Ezidis will fight in cooperation with peshmerga forces and Sinjar will be saved," Mahma Khalil said.
The fighting pitting the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces against ISIL militants has been ongoing in Iraq since mid-June, when the group took control of Mosul, the second largest city in the country.
It is now in control of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. is leading an international coalition, which includes France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia, among others, and has carried out numerous airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
According to the UN, an estimated 1.8 million citizens have been internally displaced this year throughout Iraq.