BAGHDAD: Iraqi Kurdish forces have retaken the town of Bashiqa, one of the last areas east of Mosul to be held by the Islamic State group, a top security official said Tuesday.
Kurdish peshmerga fighters had launched an assault on Bashiqa the day before, advancing on the town from three sides as the battle to retake Mosul, the last IS-held Iraqi city, entered its fourth week.
The town is under “complete control”, Jabbar Yawar, the secretary general of the Kurdish regional ministry responsible for the peshmerga, told AFP by telephone.
“Our forces are clearing mines and sweeping the city,” Yawar said.
“In the morning, there was a group of terrorists hiding inside some of the houses who wanted to escape… and 13 of them were killed,” he said, adding that five more were found inside tunnels.
Forces from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region are operating north and east of Mosul, but aside from the Bashiqa operation, federal forces have shouldered the bulk of the fighting in recent days.
The operation to retake Mosul was launched on October 17, with Iraqi forces advancing on the city from the north, east and south.