Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region has said that more than 700 members of its armed forces have been killed in the conflict against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group since June.
A statement from the region’s military forces, known as the Peshmerga, also said on Wednesday that more than 3,500 members were wounded over the past six months of fighting.
ISIL has become a major threat to the Kurdish leadership since the fighters launched an offensive in June that led to them seizing large parts of the country.
Wednesday’s statements came a day after a senior Iraqi Kurdish official urged the country’s Shia-led government to give up complete authority to regional power centres as a solution to the current conflict.
Qubad Talabani, deputy prime minister of the Kurdish regional administration, told the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that Iraqi Sunnis could rule over their own area in Iraq.
He called for a broader power structure that “reflects the diversity of Iraqi society”.
Talabani said that giving political autonomy to Iraq’s massive Sunni population may be the one way to keep them from joining ISIL and could help defeat “extremists” who have overrun much of Iraq and Syria.
His statements came during a Baghdad visit by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, who the Iraqi government pressured to increase US air strikes against ISIL.