Baghdad: Kurdish fighters on Monday recaptured three villages near Kirkuk from Islamic State (IS) militants, a Kurdish security source told Xinhua news agency.
About 20 IS militants and three Kurdish fighters were killed in the battles to seize the villages of Wihda, Saad and Khalid, near the town of Daquoq, some 40 km south of Kirkuk, capital city of the province with the same name, the source said on condition of anonymity.
US-led coalition aircraft provided air support for the Kurdish fighters, also known as Peshmerga.
Kirkuk, home to mixed ethnicities of Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans and others, is part of the areas being contested.
The Kurds want to expand their autonomous region in northern Iraq to include the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other areas in the provinces of Nineveh, Salahudin and Diyala, a demand fiercely opposed by the Iraqi government.
IS militants in August captured Gwer and a nearby town as part of their June 10 blitzkrieg, posing an imminent threat to the Kurdish capital Erbil, but the militants have been pushed back by Peshmerga fighters with international air support.