Iraq says its forces and Kurdish fighters have retaken Mosul dam, the country’s biggest, dislodging Islamic State militants who had seized it.
The jihadists deny this but US air strikes against them have helped the Kurdish Peshmerga recapture some of the ground lost in the Islamists’ rampage through northern Iraq since June.
Iraqi forces now hope to win back Mosul itself.
It comes as Iraqi officials try to stem the exodus of tens of thousands of minority Yazidis and Christians who have been forced from their homes by the militants.
“I call upon minorities in northern Iraq not to leave the country,” Iraq’s acting Foreign Minister Hussain al-Shahristani told reporters in Baghdad.
“You are an essential part of Iraq. If you leave the country, Iraq will be insufficient. You are an essential component of the Iraqi people.”
As relief supplies are sent to the region, the UK’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Britain’s role had moved beyond providing aid and that expanded operations could last for months. But Prime Minister David Cameron insists that Britain will not send ground forces to Iraq