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US strikes spur Kurd fightback against Iraq jihadists

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position on the front line in Makhmur during clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants on August 9, 2014Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga, buoyed by US air strikes, reclaimed two towns from jihadist fighters Sunday, while Western powers ramped up efforts to save displaced civilians stranded on a mountain. The third straight day of strikes by American jets and drones brought the first sign that US President Barack Obama’s decision to return to Iraq could turn the tide on two months of jihadist expansion. Another official confirmed the Kurdish troops had recaptured the towns, which Islamic State (IS) militants had seized days earlier, bringing them within striking distance of Kurdish capital Arbil. The past week saw jihadist fighters make dramatic gains, seizing Iraq’s largest dam, repeatedly defeating the peshmerga and taking over large swathes of land.

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