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Iraqi forces advance toward Mosul

Iraqi government forces raise their national flag as they enter the village of al-Khuwayn, south of the northern city of Mosul, after recapturing it from Daesh, October 23, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi forces are pushing on toward the center of the strategically-important al-Hamdaniya district in the northeast of Iraq’s Nineveh Province, as part of operations to liberate the province’s capital, Mosul, and its nearby areas from the Daesh terrorist group.

On Monday, military forces and allied volunteer fighters closed in on the heart of the district, determined to take out the Daesh terrorists holed up there, Kurdish-language Rudaw television network reported.

The operation is part of the larger-scale push to retake Mosul, which the Takfiri terror group has declared as its so-called headquarters in Iraq. The city has been under Daesh control since 2014, when the terror outfit started ravaging the country.

Upon liberation, the district would serve as a bridgehead to retake Mosul.

A member of the Iraqi government forces smokes a cigarette as they rest in the village of al-Khuwayn, south of Mosul, after recapturing it from Daesh, October 23, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

A senior commander with the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who are involved in the anti-terror operations, also confirmed to Rudaw that the town of Bashiqa in Nineveh’s Mosul district had been encircled by Kurdish forces. The network tweeted that civilians trapped inside Bashiqa had raised white flags over their roofs to alert Peshmerga forces of their whereabouts.

Also on Monday, Iraqi forces entered the Bazwayah Village, to the east of Mosul, to flush Daesh out of it. According to the federal police, as many as 57 from among 84 villages located to the south of Mosul have so far been liberated.

The terrorists are, meanwhile, reported to have fled Mosul in large numbers as the group is said to have lost the power to confront the advancing Iraqi forces on the ground.

Citing security sources, the website of Iraqi pro-government fighters al-Hashid al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units, said Daesh militants had set schools and mosques as well as a health center and a power station ablaze in the province’s al-Shourah district, located to the south of Mosul.

A refugee child rests among Iraqi refugees that fled violence in Mosul and internally displaced Syrians who fled Daesh-controlled areas in Dayr al-Zawr, near the Iraqi border, in Hasaka Governorate, Syria, October 23, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

According to the federal police, al-Shourah also witnessed the elimination of a Daesh commander named Mohammad Moussa. The police and popular forces are now reportedly 10 kilometers within the district.

In Kirkuk, relative calm after Daesh’s​ diversionary attack

Earlier in the week, the Daesh terrorists carried out a surprise attack on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is situated in the nearby province of the same name.

On Friday, the provincial council’s security committee in Kirkuk’s neighboring province of Diyala, said security intelligence showed that the attack on Kirkuk’s provincial capital had been personally devised by Ibrahim al-Samarrai, otherwise known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh, as a plot to disrupt Mosul’s liberation.

The committee’s head Sadiq al-Hussaini also said continued Daesh control over the al-Hawijah district in the Kirkuk province threatens the two provinces, as well as Salahuddin, the province lying between them.

While the attack has been largely foiled, sporadic clashes continue with Daesh elements in parts of Kirkuk.

The website of al-Hashid al-Shaabi also reported that the joint military and volunteer forces had, together with popular Turkman fighters, killed eight of the terrorists in Kirkuk on Monday.

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