Islamic State group fighters attempting to retake a town in northern Iraq held by Kurdish pershmerga forces have killed at least 30 Kurds, an Iraqi military spokesman said Sunday.

The fighting began Saturday as the extremists approached the town of Gwer, just outside of the northern city of Mosul, which the Islamic State group controls, said Halgurd Hekmat, a spokesman for Iraqi Kurdish forces in Irbil. Hekmat said he had no information about casualties suffered by the Islamic State group.

Backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, Kurdish forces retook Gwer in August after the Islamic State group's offensive saw it seize a wide swath of Iraq. Kurdish fighters from Iraq also have deployed in small numbers to help Syrian Kurds battle the group's fighters in the Syrian border town of Kobani.

Gwer sits near Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital. Retaking it would allow Islamic State group fighters a new base to potentially launch assaults targeting the city.

Earlier this month, peshmerga fighters also retook small villages around the militant-held town of Sinjar, opening a corridor to help hundreds of Yazidi families atop nearby Mount Sinjar.

The Islamic State group, which has declared a self-styled caliphate, holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

On Saturday, the U.S. military said in a statement it carried out 12 strikes on the group in Syria and three strikes in Iraq. Eleven of the coalition airstrikes in Syria targeted Islamic State group positions around the border town of Kobani near Turkey.