The Latest: Iraq says it repelled IS attack on western town

KHAZER, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on developments in Iraq where Iraqi forces and their allies launched a major offensive this week to retake Mosul, the country's second-largest city from the Islamic State group (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

An Iraqi military spokesman says troops have repelled an attack by the Islamic State group on a western town, describing it as a bid to divert attention from the massive military operation to retake the IS-held city of Mosul in the north.

The spokesman for the Joint Military Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, says IS militants attacked Rutba, in the sprawling desert province of Anbar, early Sunday. He says at least three suicide car bombs were blown up before reaching their targets and some militants were killed. He declined to say whether any civilians or Iraqi forces were killed.

He says the militants did not seize any government buildings and that the situation "is under control."

IS carried out a large assault on the northern city of Kirkuk on

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1:11 p.m.

The U.N. agency says more than 4,000 people have fled areas around Iraq's Mosul since the massive military operation to retake the Islamic State-held city began.

UNICEF's Iraq representative, Peter Hawkins, could not provide an exact figure but said at that in at least one refugee camp the conditions for children were "very, very poor." He says UNICEF teams delivered water, sanitation and other supplies expected to last seven days.

They also provided immunizations against polio and measles, which had not been available during the more than two years that the people lived under IS rule. UNICEF has plans to assist more than 784,000 people, including up to 500,000 children.

Hawkins says children in and around Mosul are at risk of death or injury from the fighting, as well as sexual violence, kidnapping and recruitment by armed groups.

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10:19 a.m.

Kurdish forces have launched a new push on Mosul as part of a massive Iraqi operation aimed at retaking the country's second largest city from the Islamic State group.

The Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, said they launched a dawn offensive Sunday on two fronts to the northeast of Mosul, near the town of Bashiqa.

Over the last week, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have been battling IS in a belt of mostly uninhabited towns and villages around Mosul, contending with roadside bombs, snipers and suicide truck bombs.

The Mosul offensive involves more than 25,000 Iraqi ground forces as well as U.S.-led coalition aircraft and advisers. It is expected to take weeks, if not months, to drive IS from Mosul, which is home to more than a million civilians.

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