U.S.-backed Kurdish peshmerga forces are removing one more obstacle on the road to Mosul: the Islamic State (IS) stronghold in the Iraqi town of Bashiqa.
Fighting has been ongoing for a week with stiff IS resistance, 48 kilometers (8 miles) from Mosul. The forces said on Monday they have surrounded the town on three sides and controlled several nearby areas including the town’s supply route to Mosul.
“There are not many (IS) fighters left in the town,” Kurdish peshmerga fighter Regir Dawd told VOA. “They are hiding in tunnels to avoid airstrikes."
Before IS took control in 2014, Bashiqa was home to 135,000 residents of mostly Yazidi and Shabak minorities. Most of them fled when IS took over.