Peshmerga forces Monday reportedly breached Iraq's northern town of Bashiqa as part of an ongoing offensive to oust Daesh militants from Mosul.
According to a report by Anadolu Agency, peshmerga forces have entered the town's center from three sides and are pounding Daesh positions there. Military experts from the U.S.-led coalition are providing support for peshmerga forces advancing into the town, the report said.
Bashiqa, whose residents are mostly Yazidis, lies 12 kilometers to the northeast of Mosul.
Turkey has a long-standing training mission based at Bashiqa, where soldiers have mentored both Kurdish peshmerga and tribal fighters. The air base has created tension between Baghdad and Ankara amid calls from Iraqi lawmakers for Turkey to close the base.
According to Reuters, the first waves of a 2,000-strong peshmerga force entered the town on foot and in armored vehicles or Humvees. Artillery earlier pounded the town, which lies on the Nineveh plains at the foot of a mountain.
"Our aim is to take control and clear out all the Daesh militants," Lieutenant-Colonel Safeen Rasoul told Reuters. "Our estimates are there are about 100 still left and 10 suicide cars."
Reuters had claimed late October that the peshmerga forces had taken full control of Bashqia. However, Daily Sabah learned at the time that the town was still to be seized.
The Turkish military also has tanks and artillery stationed in the area. Turkey joined the Mosul operation on the ground as Turkish tanks on Oct. 23 foiled a Daesh suicide attack by destroying explosive-laden vehicles in the Bashiqa region of Northern Iraq, Daily Sabah learned. According to information obtained by Daily Sabah on the ground, Turkish tanks hit Daesh targets multiple times in the Bashiqa region, actively taking part in the Mosul offensive to retake the Daesh stronghold.
Last month, the Iraqi army - backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes - launched a wide-ranging operation aimed at retaking Mosul, the last Daesh bastion in Northern Iraq, from the terrorist group.
In mid-2014, Daesh captured Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, before overrunning vast swathes of territory in the country's north and west.
Recent months have seen the Iraqi army, backed by local allies on the ground and the U.S.-led air coalition, retake some territory.
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