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Iraq military tightening grip on final Islamic State bastion

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IS battalion iraqThe Iraqi has moved in on a town held by the Islamic State [IS] group near Mosul, the country’s second city and the extremist organisation’s de facto capital in the country.

Federal forces say they are preparing to storm the town of Qayyarah as part of operations against IS, which have been taking place on several fronts in the province of Nineveh for a number of weeks now.

“The Iraqi has advanced to two kilometres away from the town’s centre,” Joint Operations Command spokesman, Yahia Rasoul, told The New Arab.

“Qayyarah is now under the direct fire of the , which will likely take back control of the town within the next two days.”

Rasoul added that Special Forces and the 15th division, backed by aerial support, had cut the supply lines to the town, which lies 60 kilometres south of Mosul.

Local media released footage on Sunday of the recapturing villages south of Qayyarah.

Federal forces have been working their way northwards up the Tigris river valley in a bid to set up bases around Mosul and start tightening the noose around IS’ last major bastion.

Kurdish forces meanwhile have been advancing from the east.

On Sunday, US-backed Peshmerga said they retook two villages east of Mosul, aiming to “clear several more villages” and increase pressure on the extremist group.

“The Peshmerga retook the villages of Khazer and Kuwair southeast of Mosul in a two-day operation that killed 155 Islamic State fighters,” a Peshmerga source told The New Arab.

A reporter and seven Kurdish fighters were also killed in the latest assault aimed at recapturing IS-held villages in the Nineveh plain.

Kurdish media showed footage of an IS car bomb being blown up during the operations.

Mosul is the last remaining city controlled by IS in Iraq and the next big target for the myriad forces battling the extremists in the country.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to retake Mosul and rid the country of IS by the end of 2016.

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