Iraq forces gain ground from Islamic State in northern town
Iraqi forces are gaining ground in a northern town that they are fighting to retake from jihadists ahead of a push for the city of Mosul, commanders said on Thursday.
Baghdad: Iraqi forces are gaining ground in a northern town that they are fighting to retake from jihadists ahead of a push for the city of Mosul, commanders said on Thursday.
Security forces began the operation on Tuesday to oust the Islamic State group from Sharqat, a town near supply lines needed for the battle to retake second city Mosul from the jihadists.
Iraq`s Joint Operations Command said forces from the 9th Armoured Division have retaken the local government headquarters in Sharqat, as well as a hospital.
Iraqi forces bypassed Sharqat to retake a key military base to its north as well as the neighbouring town of Qayyarah, but have now turned their attention to the continued IS presence behind their front lines.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes and training have since retaken significant ground including the cities of Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah.
Top US military officers have hinted that the final push for Mosul could begin next month, but there are still significant military, political and humanitarian obstacles between the launch of the operation and entering and retaking the city.