Erbil – Kurdish Peshmerga forces announced that the military operation is almost over after it had liberated 12 villages from south and west Mosul till al-Gwer Bridge.
Earlier, Peshmerga was able to retrieve nine villages followed by three others.
German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reported a Peshmerga source saying that goals were achieved and the villages were regained according to plan. He added that the plan was executed with the supervision of President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani.
A Peshmerga commander said a dozen villages had been taken from extremist militants as Kurdish forces headed toward Gwer, the target of the operation.
The operation resulted in the death of 165 ISIS fighters, 13 Peshmerga fighters, and the injury of others.
Kurdish forces announced they have secured a crossing point at the river that will enable them to open a new front against ISIS and thus tightening the battles in Mosul, ISIS’ stronghold.
Kurdish forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, were able to reach al-Kenhish on the west side of Gwer Bridge.
The bridge was destroyed two years ago by ISIS, and repairing the bridge will enable the Peshmerga and other forces to advance towards a new front in Mosul. The bridge crosses the Grand Zab River that flows into the Tigris.
According to head of Security Council of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Mansour Barzani said that the control over Kehnesh heights gives the forces advantage and a strategic location to overlook ISIS sites.
The Peshmerga operation on Sunday was “one of many shaping operations that will also increase pressure on ISIS in and around Mosul,” said an official from the Kurdistan Regional Security Council.
From the Grand Mosque, leader of ISIS Abo Baker al-Baghdadi announced the caliphate and that his followers were able to occupy large areas of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Prior to the war, there were about two million people in Mosul.
“Noose tightening around ISIL terrorists: Peshmerga advancing east of Mosul, ISF shoring up south near Qayyara,” tweeted the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the militant group Brett McGurk. ISIL is another term used for ISIS.
In July, Iraqi Army recaptured al-Qiyara Airbase, 60 Km to the south of Mosul and it is expected to be the main point in the attack on the city.
Authorities in Kurdistan didn’t announce any deaths in the battles, other than confirming the death of a Kurdish TV cameraman and the injury of another journalist.
International Committee of the Red Cross expected last month that up to one million people could be displaced once the fighting intensifies around Mosul, posing “a massive humanitarian problem”.
More than 3.4 million people have already been forced to leave their homes across Iraq, taking refuge in areas under control of the government or in the Kurdish region.