Iraq peshmerga storm ISIL town as army battles in Mosul
REUTERS photoIraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces stormed an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-held town northeast of Mosul on Nov. 7, trying to clear a pocket of militants outside the city while Iraqi troops wage a fierce urban war with the jihadists in its eastern neighborhoods, Reuters reported.
Iraqi forces also retook a key town from ISIL on the same day, a crucial objective on the southern front of the offensive to wrest back the city of Mosul, according to AFP.
As the operation against ISIL’s Iraqi stronghold entered its fourth week, fighters across the border launched an offensive in the Syrian half of the jihadist group’s self-declared caliphate, targeting its base in the city of Raqqa.
In Bashiqa, some 15 kilometers (10 miles) from Mosul, the first waves of a 2,000-strong peshmerga force entered the town on foot and in armored vehicles or Humvees.
Artillery earlier pounded the town, which lies on the Nineveh plains at the foot of a mountain.
“Our aim is to take control and clear out all the Daesh [ISIL] militants,” Lieutenant-Colonel Safeen Rasoul told Reuters. “Our estimates are there are about 100 still left and 10 suicide cars.”
In eastern districts of Mosul, which Iraqi special forces broke into last week, officers say jihadists melted into the population, ambushing and isolating troops in what the special forces spokesman called the world’s “toughest urban warfare.”
Iraqi forces also retook a key town from ISIL on the same day, a crucial objective on the southern front of the offensive to wrest back the city of Mosul.
Iraqi federal police, army and elite interior ministry forces established full control over Hamam al-Alil, the last town of note on the way to Mosul from the south, AFP reporters said.
It lies on the west bank of the Tigris river, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) southeast of Mosul.
Life quickly resumed in Hamam al-Alil, an AFP cameraman reported, with some residents re-opening shops.