“Recaptured four villages from Islamic State”

Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces have recaptured four villages from Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group near its stronghold of Mosul, reports say. The offensive started at 5:30am local time from various fronts and so far. Iraqi forces managed to retake the villages of Tal Hamid, Qarqasha, Abzakh and Qura Takh. Clashes are still ongoing in a fifth village, Sateeh. The advance is part of a wider security operation to retake Iraq’s second largest city, which has been under the control of ISIL, also known as ISIS, since 2014.  ISIL fighters tried to slow down the offensive with two suicide car bombs near the village of Sateeh, but the Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers leading the offensive blew up the car before they reached them. ISIL fighters are now burning tyres near their positions in an attempt to cover themselves from US-led coalition aircraft, Kurdish local television reported. Peshmerga engineering teams are defusing bombs planted by ISIL in the four liberated villages. The battle for Mosul, ISIL’s de facto capital in Iraq and the largest city anywhere in its self-proclaimed caliphate, is expected later this year, but plans have not been finalised, officials and diplomats in Baghdad have said. Army, police and special forces are expected to participate, with air support from a US-led coalition.

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