Kurds, Islamic State clash near Kurdish regional capital

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Kurds, Islamic State clash near Kurdish regional capital
DOHUK, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Iraqi Yazidis flee from Sinjar due to attacks of army groups led by Islamic State (IS) to Lalesh enshrined Kurdish city of Dohuk, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hamit Huseyin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DOHUK, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Iraqi Yazidis flee from Sinjar due to attacks of army groups led by Islamic State (IS) to Lalesh enshrined Kurdish city of Dohuk, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hamit Huseyin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DOHUK, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Iraqi Yazidis flee from Sinjar due to attacks of army groups led by Islamic State (IS) to Lalesh enshrined Kurdish city of Dohuk, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hamit Huseyin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DOHUK, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Iraqi Yazidis flee from Sinjar due to attacks of army groups led by Islamic State (IS) to Lalesh enshrined Kurdish city of Dohuk, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hamit Huseyin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - AUGUST 5: Members of Syrian Islamic Front fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) trying to seize the villages located in the northen Aleppo, Syria on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Ahmed Muhamed Ali/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - AUGUST 5: Members of Syrian Islamic Front fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) trying to seize the villages located in the northen Aleppo, Syria on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Ahmed Muhamed Ali/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 4: Iraqi Peshmerga forces seize Mosul Dam against the rising Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat in Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 4: Iraqi Peshmerga forces seize Mosul Dam against the rising Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat in Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 4: Iraqi Peshmerga forces seize Mosul Dam against the rising Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat in Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 4: Iraqi Peshmerga forces seize Mosul Dam against the rising Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat in Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 4: Iraqi Peshmerga forces seize Mosul Dam against the rising Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat in Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 4: Iraqi Peshmerga forces seize Mosul Dam against the rising Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat in Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) taking aim at captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes to an open field moments before shooting them in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with truckloads of captured Iraqi soldiers after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 5: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - Kurdish forces attacked Islamic State fighters just 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil in northern Iraq, a senior Kurdish official told Reuters on Wednesday.

"We have changed our tactics from being defensive to being offensive. Now we are clashing with the Islamic State in Makhmur," said Jabbar Yawar, secretary-general of the ministry of the Kurdish peshmerga fighters.

Yawar said the Kurds had re-established military cooperation with Baghdad.

Ties had been strained between the Kurdish leadership and the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki over oil, budgets and land.

But a dramatic weekend offensive in the north by the Sunni militants prompted them to bury differences and work together against the biggest threat to Iraq's security since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Yawar said 50,000 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority who fled the offensive and are hiding on a mountain near the town of Sinjar risked starving to death if they are not rescued in 24 hours.

"Many have already died," he said without elaborating.

Islamic State Attacks Yazidi Religious Sect: 'Convert Or Die'


Learn More:
Who are the Kurds?
Sunni Islam
Shia Islam
Yazidi Ethnic Minority

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(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Isra' al-Rubei'i; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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