Iraqi Kurds launch offensive east of Mosul
ARBIL – Agence France-Presse
AFP photoIraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces on May 29 launched an offensive aimed at retaking areas east of Mosul, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) main hub in the country, a statement said.
The “peshmerga-led ground offensive, backed by international coalition warplanes” started before dawn, the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) said.
It said the operation involved around 5,500 peshmerga and was aimed at retaking several villages from ISIL near Khazir, east of Mosul.
“This is one of the many shaping operations expected to increase pressure on ISIL in and around Mosul in preparation for an eventual assault on the city,” the KRSC said.
Six hours into the operation, peshmerga forces had retaken the village of Mufti, the statement said.
The fresh push against the jihadist organization comes a week after Iraqi forces launched an operation against Fallujah, ISIL’s only other major urban hub in Iraq.
The overall commander of the Fallujah operation, Abdelwahab al-Saadi, said May 28 that it was a matter of hours before the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) entered the city.
The week-old operation has so far focused on retaking villages and rural areas around the city, which lies only 50 kilometers west of Baghdad.
“I won’t tell you hours but the breach of Fallujah will happen very soon,” Hadi al-Ameri, a senior commander in the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force, told Iraqi television.
CTS’s involvement will mark the beginning of a phase of urban combat in Fallujah, a city where U.S. forces in 2004 fought some of their toughest battles since the Vietnam War.