Officials and residents say fighters with the Islamic State extremist group have seized two small towns in northern Iraq after driving out Kurdish security forces.

Mosul governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, who fled to the largely autonomous Kurdish region when the Islamic State group and allied Sunni fighters seized Iraq’s second largest city in June, told The Associated Press on Sunday that the towns of Zumar and Sinjar fell after fierce clashes that erupted the day before.

Residents of the two towns, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, confirmed al-Nujaifi’s account.

The Islamic State group has carved out a self-styled caliphate in a large area straddling the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press