Kurdish Peshmerga forces battle ISIS in Mosul province
U.S. conducts airstrikes near Mosul Dam and in Irbil
ISIS fighters kidnap 50 men from Kirkuk village, warning residents to fight Peshmerga
"We're steadily moving in the right direction," President Obama says of ISIS fight
Kurdish forces backed by U.S. air cover made gains Friday against ISIS fighters in Iraq’s Mosul province as NATO leaders concluded a summit in Wales, pledging to help defeat the radical Islamic forces.
The Kurdish fighters, known as the Peshmerga, retook several villages seized this summer in ISIS’ lightning assault in Iraq as well as high ground overlooking plains on the approach to Mosul, CNN’s Anna Coren reported.
“It is a duty of everybody who loves democracy and freedom and human rights to struggle against the terrorists,” said Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Shaways, a Kurd.
U.S. forces conducted four airstrikes Friday around Mosul Dam and in Irbil, destroying an observation post, several vehicles and three mortar positions, U.S. Central Command said.
In Kirkuk province, ISIS fighters kidnapped nearly 50 men from the village of Tal Ali after beating them, according to Kurdish security forces. ISIS ordered residents to fight the Peshmerga before leaving, the Kurdish officials said.
In Wales, President Barack Obama said NATO allies were committed to fighting ISIS.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re steadily moving in the right direction,” Obama said.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said alliance members “stand ready to assist Iraq” in its fight against ISIS, but neither he nor British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested there are immediate plans to send combat troops.
“For Britain’s part we don’t rule anything out. We’ll act on our national interest,” Cameron said in response to a reporter’s question about committing troops. “I think in terms of the sort of decisions you’re talking about, we’re not at that stage yet, and I think it’s very important that what we do is part of a comprehensive plan.”
In addition to conducting some 131 airstrikes against ISIS targets in the last several weeks, the United States has sent military advisers to Iraq to help with strategies to combat ISIS.
Canada – a NATO member – said Friday it also will send “several dozen” troops to Iraq to help advise that country’s government on fighting ISIS, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office said.
Journalist Zilemo Aziz in Irbil, Iraq, contributed to this report.