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ISIS forces launch multiple attacks on Kurdish territory in Iraq, officials say

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Story highlights

  • General says ISIS attacked areas of Sinjar mountain range
  • Deadly ISIS attacks targeted the Mosul Dam
  • In one, six Peshmerga troops were killed, a spokesman says
  • Turkey to allow Iraqi Peshmerga to cross into Syria to defend Kobani
ISIS militants launched about 15 near-simultaneous attacks on Kurdish forces in northern Iraq on Monday in what Kurdish government officials and the news agency Rudaw said was a fierce and renewed push for territory.
ISIS also launched attacks against Mosul Dam, a strategic prize, and also renewed its offensive on the Sinjar mountain range in northern Iraq.
An ISIS-commandeered military truck loaded with explosives targeted a Peshmerga checkpoint along the security belt circling the dam, killing six security force members and injuring seven others critically, according to Peshmerga spokesman Said Mamazeen.
At almost the same time, ISIS militants launched an attack on the Nineveh Valley near the dam, which was repelled by Peshmerga forces using European and American weapons, the spokesman said.
Another Kurdish military official, who asked not to be named for protocol and security reasons, said that despite the attacks, it would be difficult for ISIS to gain control of the dam because of the large numbers of Peshmerga forces in the area.
Attacks in Sinjar mountain range
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A senior official at the Ministry of Peshmerga, who similarly asked not to be identified as a matter of government protocol, reported that ISIS fighters were also killed in the attacks, and that the Peshmerga successfully repelled most of the more than dozen incidents Monday.
ISIS fighters launched attacks on several areas of the Sinjar mountain range Monday, including the village of Sharaf ad-Din, which holds one of the most important shrines for the Yazidi community, Hazhar Ismail, brigadier general at the Ministry of Peshmerga, told CNN.
"ISIS failed in their attempt to control the village of Sharaf ad-Din after Peshmerga forces repelled the attack and managed to kill a number of ISIS militants," Ismail told CNN.
ISIS fighters managed to seize two villages in an area close to Sharaf ad-Din, but these villages were unpopulated as a result of ISIS attacks in August, Ismail said.
Ismail said he expected coalition airstrikes against those villages in the near future.
On the Syrian front
Still under siege despite gains against ISIS, fighters defending the Syrian city of Kobani are getting more help, in addition to U.S. airstrikes.
U.S. military cargo planes dropped much-needed weapons, ammunition and medical gear in the dead of night Sunday.
And on Monday, Turkey's foreign minister announced his country would let Kurdish Peshmerga from Iraq use Turkish territory to enter Syria and reinforce fighters in Kobani.
The help is desperately needed, Kobani officials say. Even though defenders control some 70% of the city, Kobani is cut off and ISIS forces continue to shell it with mortars from the east and south, said Anwar Muslim, a local government official in Kobani.
Tens of thousands of civilians have fled to Turkey as a result of weeks of intense fighting between Syrian Kurdish forces and the Free Syrian Army for control of Kobani, a border town that's one of the last in the region to resist falling to ISIS.
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The city appeared to be close to falling before U.S. and allied airstrikes helped drive back ISIS forces.
Still, the city remains cut off from the ground. The Turkish decision to allow Iraqi Peshmerga to enter Syria through its territory could provide an influx of much-needed ground forces to help.
On Monday, a fighter inside Kobani said two car bombers detonated their explosives in the city's eastern industrial area. One killed two Syrian Kurdish fighters, and the other was shot at by Kurdish forces and detonated explosives before reaching intended targets, said the fighter, who can't be named for security reasons.
Consultation with Turkey
Sunday's airdrop in Kobani was delivered by three C-130 cargo planes and appeared to have been received on the ground by Kurdish fighters, senior Obama administration officials said.
A fighter on the ground in Kobani who cannot be identified for security reasons saw more than 100 large crates, including a crate with M-16 guns. A doctor in Kobani said he had received a ton of crucial medical supplies, including antibiotics and other materials.
President Barack Obama notified Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the drop in a phone conversation Saturday night, administration officials said.
Strategic battle
The United States has generally downplayed the importance of Kobani as a key city in the battle against the militants.
However, if ISIS takes Kobani, it would mean the group would control land between the northern Syrian city of Raqqa and Turkey -- about 100 kilometers (60 miles) apart.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria took control of Raqqa last year. ISIS uses the once liberal city as a kind of headquarters where it applies its hard-line interpretation of Islamic law, terrorizing the population.
With the help of airstrikes from an international coalition led by the United States, Kurdish and Iraqi forces are now focused on pushing ISIS back from its relentless attempt to take Kobani.
Official: Strategy working
The strategy against ISIS is working, Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command, said last week.
U.S. warplanes struck only twice Friday and Saturday in Kobani, Central Command said, both times targeting ISIS fighting positions. That's far fewer strikes than days before. U.S. jets flew at least 14 missions near the city Thursday and Friday, the military reported.
It will take "strategic patience" to beat ISIS, Austin said.
ISIS has apparently taken a heavy hit over the past several days. The bodies of at least 70 fighters for the terror group have been dropped off over four days at a hospital in the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, a Syrian opposition group told CNN. Tal Abyad is on the Turkish border and about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Raqqa.