A senior military commander says Iraqi Special Forces on Friday drove out Islamic State group militants from Bartella, a town east of Mosul, while fighting between Iraqi and Kurdish fighters continued in northern Iraqi villages near Mosul.
Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, Iraqi Commander of Joint Operation Command, said “anti-terrorism forces” were cleaning Bartella of explosives, mines and all obstructions.”
The town is situated about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Mosul and special forces are expected to lead the way into the city, where they will face fierce resistance in an urban landscape where Islamic State group are preparing for a climactic battle.
Footage released on Friday but said-to-be shot on Thursday by the Aamaq news agency, a communications arm of the Islamic State group, aksi claims to show militants repelling the Iraqi army’s attempted re-capture of Mosul, firing gunshots from the villages of Manara and Bashita.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by U.S.-led coalition support launched a multi-pronged assault this week to retake Mosul and surrounding areas from the Islamic State group. The operation is the largest undertaken by the Iraqi military since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
On Friday, Islamic State militants armed with assault rifles and explosives attacked targets in and around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, in an assault that appeared to be aimed at diverting Iraqi security forces from the massive offensive against the IS-held city of Mosul.
This week a decorated U.S. soldier from Illinois and an Army civilian employee from Oklahoma who both had been deployed multiple times to support military operations in Afghanistan were killed in an attack in Kabul, the Defense Department said.
Army Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, of Fairview, Illinois, and Michael G. Sauro, 40, of McAlester, Oklahoma, died of wounds received when they encountered hostile enemy forces in Afghanistan’s capital, the military said in a statement Thursday.
Security forces still battle ISIL at Kirkuk
In Iraq security forces have been battling with ISIL militants in the oil rich region of Kirkuk. ISIL have claimed responsibility for the major assault that appeared aimed at diverting Iraqi and Kurdish forces from a massive operation to drive the militant group out of Iraq’s second largest city.
CCTV’s Natalie Carney reports.
Security forces still battle ISIL at KirkukIn Iraq security forces have been battling with ISIL militants in the oil rich region of Kirkuk. CCTV's Natalie Carney reports.
Jonah Blank on the latest in the fight for Mosul
For more on the Mosul offensive and the ISIL counterattack in Kirkuk, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar spoke to Jonah Blank, a senior political scientist for the RAND Corporation.
Story by the Associated Press