LATEST VIDEO: Iraqi Peshmarga Forces Prepare to Attack ISIS Militants in Bashiqa

Sun Oct 30, 2016 19:46:22

Peshmerga forces on Sunday (October 30) prepared to storm the Iraqi town of Bashiqa northeast of Mosul as part of operations to drive Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) out of the area.

Iraqi troops and Kurdish fighters have cleared dozens of villages as they press towards Mosul for an offensive against the Islamic State's last main stronghold in the country.

Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdish region, told US Defense Secretary Ash Carter on October 23 that the Kurds had succeeded in liberating Bashiqa from Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL).

But the ground operation was still in progress on Sunday as ISIS elements continued to occupy the town.

A commander with the Peshmerga forces said their plan would allow the Kurdish fighters to enter the city with few human losses.

One man who escaped from the city, Ibrahim Taha, said he had risked his life in order to be free of the jihadists’ rule.

“I said I wanted to leave, I did not care if they killed me as I was leaving, I did not care what would happen to me, I just wanted it to be over,” Taha said.

The fall of Mosul would mark Islamic State's effective defeat in Iraq.

A senior U.S. official said about 50,000 Iraqi ground troops are taking part in the offensive, including a core force of 30,000 from the government's armed forces, 10,000 Kurdish fighters and the remaining 10,000 from police and local volunteers.

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