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Peshmerga gaining ground en route to Mosul

In a massive two-day assault on Islamic State militants southeast of Mosul, peshmerga forces regained nine villages and killed 140 IS fighters.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces keep watch in a village east of Mosul, Iraq, May 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Azad Lashkari - RTX2EODA

MANGUBA VILLAGE, Iraq — Three ambulances rushed through the last checkpoint and another, sirens blaring, exited at the Khazir front on the morning of May 29. A military operation, part of a push toward Mosul in Iraq’s northwestern Ninevah province, had started a few hours earlier, around 5 a.m., and would continue into the following day. Trucks rushed to and from the front, with light-reflecting sheets covering their hoods to prevent aircraft from the US-led international coalition from mistaking them for Islamic State (IS) vehicles.

“Around 6,000 peshmerga and [the elite paramilitary] Zerevani forces are involved,” Gen. Sheikh Ato Zebari, the deputy head of the Khazir front, told Al-Monitor at a nearby base. Gen. Dedewan Khorsheed Tofeq added that the operation west of Erbil would push IS farther from Gwer and the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), enabling more freedom of movement for forces hoping to push toward Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, still firmly under IS control.

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