Thirteen Iraqi Kurdish soldiers were killed in the Kirkuk province on Friday during an operation against the ISIS militant group.
The soldiers, otherwise known as Peshmerga, were killed by roadside bombs and explosives-rigged vehicles, a Kurdish brig. gen. told AFP news agency on the condition on anonymity.
Another 47 Peshmerga forces were also injured during the operation, which aimed to “secure the Baghdad-Kirkuk road and the centre of the Daquq district” from ISIS militants, another Brig. Gen., Mohammed Mustafa Hama, said.
According to AFP, the operation, which was supported by air strikes by the US-led international coalition, successfully resulted in the retaking of 10 villages from the control of ISIS.
The oil-rich city of Kirkuk was occupied by the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) last year as a precaution against an ISIS advance in the region.
ISIS has seized swathes of land across Syria and Iraq, having broken through the Sykes-Picot border that divided the two countries after taking over Iraq’s second biggest city Mosul in June 2014.
The militants have continued to expand their territory deeper into Iraq, but have faced resistance in Tikrit from government forces backed by Shiite militias and in Kirkuk by Peshmerga forces.
However, the group still maintains control of much of western Iraq, adding the city of Ramadi to its realm in May.
With their de facto capital based in the Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS also continues to advance in Syria, where they have mainly been fighting Kurdish YPG forces and Syrian opposition groups.