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Peshmerga Sends Daesh Running for the Hills Ahead of Mosul Offensive

© REUTERS / Azad LashkariKurdish Peshmerga forces keep watch in a village east of Mosul, Iraq, May 29, 2016.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces keep watch in a village east of Mosul, Iraq, May 29, 2016. - Sputnik International
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Iraqi Kurds, assisted by US warplanes, pushed Daesh out of 12 villages, destroying military hardware and killing 180 militants in the province of Erbil ahead of a major operation to free Mosul, the second largest city in the country that has been Daesh's stronghold since June 2014, Peshmerga commander Livan Nurettin told Sputnik.

"We plan to prevent Daesh from crossing from Mosul to our province," Livan Nurettin, who leads Peshmerga forces deployed to the areas surrounding the city, said.

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The commander added that Masoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan, was in charge of the operation, saying that not only did he give the order to launch the operation himself, but that he was present in the area where the fighting took place.

The Peshmerga commander described the operation as successful since the Kurdish troops reached their goal, the Güver bridge.

"We cleared an area of 14 sq. km. Twelve Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish villages located in the Mosul area were freed in the operation," Livan Nurettin explained. "We dealt a major blow to Daesh, killing 180 militants and destroying weapons and ammunition." 

The coalition aircraft "carried out massive airstrikes against Daesh targets in the area," the commander added. They "destroyed transport trucks rigged with explosives."

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This operation is part of the preliminary stage of the offensive aimed at liberating Mosul.

Meanwhile, Daesh launched an attack on Peshmerga close to the city of Sinjar that was under the militant control from August 2014 until November 2015. Sinjar prefect Mıhemed Xelil told Sputnik that Daesh targeted an area located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) away from the city center and a cement factory. The attack took place at dawn.

"The standoff lasted for several hours. More than 100 militants were killed. Peshmerga did not lose a single fighter, but five soldiers were wounded. They are currently being treated," he said. "The area that Daesh attacked is currently under Peshmerga control."

Daesh captured Mosul and large parts of northern and western Iraq in June 2014 in a blitz offensive that shocked the world. The militants are estimated to have lost two thirds of their territories due to the efforts of Iraqi security forces, Kurdish fighters and the US-led coalition.

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