Baquba: The Islamic State jihadist group on Monday attacked the Kurdish-controlled town of Qara Tapah, northeast of Baghdad, killing at least seven peshmerga troops and three civilians, officials said.
The militants attacked from two sides, lobbing mortar rounds into the town, which lies 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Iranian border.
"We have asked for air support from the international coalition," a senior military officer in the area said, referring to US-led forces carrying out air strikes against IS.
According to peshmerga leaders and a hospital official in the nearby town of Khanaqin, at least seven peshmerga and three civilians were killed by the shelling and in the fighting that raged in surrounding villages.
"Almost half of the town`s population fled today. We`re talking about around 9,000 people," said a resident who gave his name as Haidar.
The head of an organisation promoting the rights of Iraq`s Turkmen minority also spoke of an exodus of several thousand people.
Qara Tapah, where three car bombs killed at least 45 people on October 12, has a mixed population of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.
"The people who remain are young men who are carrying weapons to defend their town alongside peshmerga fighters," Haidar said.
"We are afraid IS will encircle us and turn this town into a second Amerli," said Haidar, in reference to a majority Turkmen Shiite town farther north that was besieged by IS for two months.
In August, an alliance of federal forces, Kurdish troops and Shiite militias eventually broke the siege of Amerli, where residents held off the jihadists against all odds.