Kurdish forces retake two towns in Northern Iraq

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Kurdish forces retake two towns in Northern Iraq
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Militants of Kurdish peshmerga forces on full alert for possible attacks of Islamic State (ISIS) militants around the Mahmur district of Mosul in Iraq on August 8, 2014. (Photo by Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Militants of Kurdish peshmerga forces on full alert for possible attacks of Islamic State (ISIS) militants around the Mahmur district of Mosul in Iraq on August 8, 2014. (Photo by Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Shiite Iraqi Kurdish children, known as 'Shabak', displaced by fierce fighting between Kurdish peshmerga forces and jihadist militants from the Islamic State (IS) sit in the back of a truck on the road between Kirkuk and Arbil after fleeing the area of Bartala near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, on August 8, 2014. Jihadists seized Iraq's largest dam north of their hub of Mosul, giving them control over the supply of water and electricity for a vast area, officials said. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN IBRAHIM (Photo credit should read MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi military personnel distribute water to Shiite Iraqi Kurds, known as 'Shabak', displaced by fierce fighting between Kurdish peshmerga forces and jihadist militants from the Islamic State (IS) after arriving on the road between Kirkuk and Arbil having fled the area of Bartala near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, on August 8, 2014. Jihadists seized Iraq's largest dam north of their hub of Mosul, giving them control over the supply of water and electricity for a vast area, officials said. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN IBRAHIM (Photo credit should read MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)
ERBIL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Armed Iraqi Kurds and retired members of Kurdish peshmerga forces deploy on a road linking Erbil and Mosul, to back up the Kurdish peshmerga forces against Islamic State (IS) militants on August 08, 2014 in Erbil, Iraq. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LALISH, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Yezidi children are seen in the Yezidis' most holy site, walley of Lalish located in Northen Iraq, where the Kurdish peshmerga forces stand guard against the Islamic State threat, on August 8, 2014. (Photo by Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters load missile launcher during the clashes with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep guard during the clashes with army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep guard during the clashes with army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters use missile to fight with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters patrol during the clashes with army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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BAGHDAD (AP) - Kurdish forces retook Sunday two towns from the Sunni militants that have seized large parts of northern Iraq, said a senior Kurdish military official, amid a building international response that has included air drops of aid and airstrikes.

Brig. Gen. Shirko Fatih said the Kurdish fighters were able to push the militants of the Islamic State group out of the villages of Makhmour and al-Gweir some 45 kilometers from Irbil, in one of the first victories by the Kurdish forces that until now have been in retreat.

The victories by the radical Sunni militants that adhere to an extremist intolerant interpretation of Islam have sent 10,000s of the country's minorities fleeing from their homes in fear in a situation that has grabbed world attention.

The United States announced a fourth round of airstrikes Sunday against militant vehicles and mortars firing on Irbil as part of its small-scale series of attacks meant to discourage the Sunni fighters from endangering U.S. personnel near the Kurdish capital.

During a visit to Baghdad, France's foreign minister said during that Paris will provide "several tons" of aid to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and called upon leaders in Baghdad to unite against Sunni militants who have seized large parts of the country.

Speaking at a press conference with Iraq's acting Foreign Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, Laurent Fabius said his visit is aimed at boosting humanitarian efforts in northern Iraq, where tens of thousands of minority Yazidis have fled into the mountains and even into neighboring Syria to escape the extremist Islamic State group.

The actions of the militants may even constitute "crimes against humanity," warned the European Union in a statement, in which it said it was "appalled by the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation."

Britain for its part said its air force has already dropped water containers and solar lanterns over the Sinjar mountains where the Yazidis have taken refuge with little food and water. An ancient religion with links to Zoroastrianism, the Yazidis have been given a choice of converting to Islam or dying, by the militants.

U.S. fighter jets and drones have also attacked militants firing on the Yazidis around Sinjar, which is in the far west of the country near the Syrian border.

After Kurdish fighters opened a path to the border, thousands of Yazidis have been pouring across the river into Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria.

Those crossing told The Associated Press they had lost their sisters, daughters, children and their elderly parents, describing militants randomly spraying machine gun fire in their direction as they fled.

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