Iraqis push to­ward IS-held Mo­sul in grad­ual of­fen­sive

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

The long-awaited of­fen­sive to re­take Mo­sul from the Is­lamic State group be­gan Mon­day with a vol­ley of U.S.-led coali­tion airstrikes and heavy ar­tillery bom­bard­ments on a clus­ter of vil­lages along the edge of Iraq’s his­toric Nin­eveh plain east of the mil­i­tant-held city.

Iraq’s Kur­dish pesh­merga fight­ers led the ini­tial as­sault, ad­vanc­ing slowly across open fields lit­tered with booby-trapped ex­plo­sives as plumes of black and orange smoke rose over­head — the open­ing phase of an un­prece­dented cam­paign ex­pected to take weeks if not months, and in­volve more than 25,000 troops.

By the end of the day Kur­dish forces had re­taken some 80 square miles, ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­dent of Iraq’s Kur­dis­tan re­gion. Pesh­merga com­man­ders on the ground es­ti­mated the of­fen­sive re­took nine vil­lages and pushed the front­line with IS back five miles.

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