Posted on August 15, 2016 by
HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces backed by US-led air forces say they have retaken eleven villages east of the Islamic State-held city of Mosul in a large-scale operation launched early Sunday, the Kurdistan Region’s Presidency said.
U.S.-backed Kurdish forces known as peshmerga aim to “clear several more villages” in “one of many shaping operations” that will increase pressure on the extremist group, the Kurdish region’s Security Council said in a statement.
“The Peshmerga forces in Khazir and Gwer fronts, aiming to liberate the villages between Wardak [30 km (19 miles) southeast of Mosul] and Gwer, regained control of 11 villages in an operation backed by Coalition Air Force,” the KRP’s statement said.
Peshmerga Brig. Gen. Dedewan Khurshid Tofiq described the operation outside Mosul as “ongoing.” Rudaw, a local television network, showed footage of smoke rising from a village in the distance as armored vehicles pushed across a field.
The council’s statement said the area cleared is about 50 square kilometers (20 square miles). It said the U.S.-led coalition is supporting the operation with airstrikes, one of which destroyed a car bomb.
The Islamic extremist militants fought back with mortar shells and machine guns and detonated roadside bombs and booby-trapped cars, a Kurdish security source said.
But the Kurdish fighters with their armored vehicles managed to enter at least 11 villages, despite continued clashes around other villages.
The battles have so far killed 47 IS militants and at least three Peshmerga members, with 15 others injured, the source said.
The Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces are now fighting to seize back positions around Mosul amid a major offensive to liberate the whole city.