Kurdish forces capture several villages from ISIL near Mosul

Kurdish forces in Iraq say they have captured several villages near Mosul from the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group, the last major city the militants hold in the country.

The offensive began at dawn on Sunday, backed by air strikes from the US-led coalition battling IS.

Kurdish and Iraqi government forces have been encircling Mosul ahead of an offensive to take the city itself.

Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, has been under IS control since June 2014.

The militants reportedly responded to the air strikes by trying to ram explosive-packed vehicles into Kurdish lines.

A Kurdish commander said that more than 5,000 troops were involved in the latest operation. Clashes are said to be ongoing.

It comes as the Iraqi government is trying to advance from the south. No date has been given for when the operation to retake Mosul will begin.
The pressure on ISIL is growing in every direction and Kurdish forces appear to be in the forefront of the ground offensive in both Iraq and Syria.  That should give the Kurds some bargaining power once ISIL is defeated.

Mosul will still be a huge undertaking if the ISIL forces stiffen their resistance.  But they appear to be suffering from morale problems as they begin losing real estate.  This is the last major city they control in Iraq.


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