LATEST VIDEO: Iraqi Forces Continue Advance against ISIS in East of Mosul

Tue Oct 18, 2016 09:16:12

Iraqi government forces, with air and ground support from the US-led coalition, launched an offensive on Monday to drive Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) from the northern city of Mosul, the militants’ last major stronghold in the country.

Explosions could be heard on the city’s eastern front, where Kurdish fighters moved forward to take outlying villages, a Reuters correspondent said.

The United States predicted Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) would suffer “a lasting defeat” as Iraqi forces mounted their biggest operation since the US withdrew its own troops in 2011.

Some 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, Kurdish Peshmerga militia and Sunni tribal fighters were expected to take part in the offensive to drive an estimated 4,000 to 8,000 Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) militants from Mosul, a city of 1.5 million people.

The Iraqi Kurdish military command said 4,000 Peshmerga were taking part in an operation to clear several villages held by Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) to the east of Mosul, in an attack coordinated with a push by Iraqi army units from the southern front.

Kurdish peshmerga forces said they had liberated six villages on the first day of operation.

Television footage of Kurdistan 24 TV showed what it said was an explosion of a suicide car bomb directed at an Iraqi army military vehicle near Bilwat village east of Mosul.

Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, said the operation, which he said was the first time the two forces had fought against Islamic State together, had taken about 200 square km of farm land and villages east of Mosul from the militants on the first day.

In 2014, Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed from Mosul’s Grand Mosque a “caliphate” in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

If Mosul falls, Raqqa in Syria will be Islamic State’s last city stronghold.

S/SH 11

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