Mon Jul 11, 2016 6:12am EDT
BAGHDAD Iraqi government forces said on Saturday they took back control of Qayara airbase, about 60 km (40 miles) from the northern city, backed by air cover from a U.S.-led military coalition.
"The seizure of the Qayara West airfield ... will be followed. Its purpose is to create a logistics hub there, so there will be U.S. logistics support," Carter told reporters.
The airfield is "one of the hubs from which ... Iraqi security forces, accompanied and advised by us as needed, will complete the southern-most envelopment of Mosul," he added.
The recapture of Mosul, on major supply roads running further north to the borders of Syria and Turkey, would be a major boost for the Iraqi government and U.S. plans to weaken the group which has launched and inspired attacks in the West.
Two years since Islamic State seized wide swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria in a lightning offensive, the tide has begun to turn as an array of forces lined up against the militants have made inroads into their self-proclaimed "caliphate".
The militants have increasingly resorted to insurgent-style attacks including a bombing in Baghdad last week that left nearly 300 people dead.