Erbil (Iraq): A mixed Kurdish and Yazidi armed force said on Monday it had dislodged IS militants from five Yazidi villages west of Mosul in an offensive that began on Saturday.
It coincided with a larger, ongoing Iraqi government and Kurdish offensive to recapture Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from IS with aerial support from the US-led military coalition. Militias are also in the Mosul campaign, battling IS to the west of the city.
IS overran the five villages in 2014 when it swept over Sinjar mountain and the surrounding region inhabited by Yazidis, killing, capturing and enslaving thousands from the Iraqi religious minority.
US-backed Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish forces took back Sinjar in 2015 but the area south of the mountain remained in the hands of the ultra-hardline militants.
The offensive launched by the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) aims to take back all Yazidi villages south of Sinjar, the group's administrative chief, Hassan Saeed, told Reuters.
Saeed, a Yazidi, said the offensive had not been coordinated with militias known as the Popular Mobilisation.
Meanwhile, eight people were killed and nearly 20 wounded on Monday in two separate car bomb blasts that hit police checkpoints in Falluja, a former stronghold of IS west of Baghdad, police sources said.
The attacks were the first since Iraqi government forces took back Falluja from the insurgents in June.
Both car bombs exploded in the central part of the city, the sources said. Authorities declared a curfew after the bombings, a police officer said.