Iraqi forces on Saturday recaptured four villages from Islamic State near the extremist militia's northern stronghold of Mosul, a government official said.
The villages located to the south of Mosul were regained in a dawn attack, the head of the town of Qayyara, Saleh Hassan, told dpa.
He said that government troops detonated 10 car bombs before militants could have used them in the "liberated" villages.
"The Iraqi troops are now stationed around 500 metres from the centre of Qayyara from its southern side," Hassan added, without giving casualty figures.
In July, government forces, backed by US-led airstrikes, retook control of the strategic air base of Qayyara from Islamic State.
The facility is located around 50 kilometres south of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, which has been under Islamic State control since mid-2014.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has repeatedly vowed to retake Mosul from Islamic State, which has in recent months suffered several military setbacks and lost ground in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
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