Push towards ISIL stronghold from multiple fronts progressing, a day after capture of Rutba town in Anbar by the group
Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army are making advances on different fronts as they push towards the ISIL stronghold of Mosul, but they are facing stiff resistance, and elsewhere in Iraq, ISIL has staged counterattacks.
ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, also known as ISIS, took full control on Monday of the town of Rutba in the western Anbar province as the approaching force tried to expel its fighters from Mosul, 700km north of Rutba.
“They also attacked Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Sinjar close to the Syrian border,” said Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from northern Iraq.
“For two days ISIL forced Iraqi security forces to declare a state of emergency in the northern city of Kirkuk. Dozens of fighters targeted multiple locations in a sophisticated assault that some described as a message.”
Iraqi special forces, for their part, began shelling ISIL positions before dawn on Monday near Bartella, a historically Christian town to the east of Mosul that they retook last week.
With patriotic music blaring from loudspeakers on their Humvees, they then pushed into the village of Tob Zawa, about 9km from Mosul, amid heavy clashes.
After entering the village, they allowed more than 30 people who had been sheltering in a school to escape the fighting.
Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell under the control of ISIL in 2014.
Several countries are involved in the battle to reclaim the city, including Turkey which on Sunday confirmed its first attempted shelling of ISIL positions near Bashiqa, a key town near Mosul, at the request of Peshmerga forces.
“The Peshmerga forces have now reached the town of Bashiqa but are not inside it yet,” Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid said, reporting from Erbil on Monday.
“It may take a few days. They [Peshmerga] suspect that there are a few ISIL suicide bombers inside.”
Turkey’s moves on Sunday raised tensions with the Iraqi government.
Relations have been strained after Turkey sent hundreds of troops to the Bashiqa region to train anti-ISIL fighters.
Fuente: al jazeera