Bashiqa, Iraq, 7 Shafar 1437/7 November 2016 (MINA) – Iraqi Kurdish fighters are exchanging heavy fire with Islamic State (ISIL/Daesh) fighters as they advance from two directions on a town held by the armed group just 13km east of the city of Mosul.
The town of Bashiqa has been surrounded by Kurdish Peshmerga forces for weeks.
Monday’s push appears to be the most serious yet to drive the ISIL from the area, which is to the northeast of Mosul, the group’s last major urban bastion in the country.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammad Jamjoom, reporting from the frontline near Bashiqa, said “it was the biggest push yet to try to take control of Bashiqa since the battle for Mosul began”.
The Peshmerga fighters are optimistic. They say there are only about 100 to 200 ISIL fighters left as well as possibly three very high ranking ISIL commanders,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal El Shayyal, reporting from Erbil, said “as far as the Kurdish fighters are concerned, Bashiqa is the last remaining major area ISIL controls in the KRG, which is the semi-autononums Kurdish region of Iraq”.
“[Kurdish forces] are entering [Bashiqa] not only on the ground but from the skies as well. Bashiqa is also important to retake because it has a multicultural, multi-ethnic population, which includes Christians, Yazidis, Sunni Arabs, and many others,” he said. (T/P001/R07)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)