Battle against ISIS : Iraqi forces recapture town from IS as troops push on Mosul

Baghdad, Oct 22 :  Iraqi security forces on Saturday freed the town of Hamdaniyah from Islamic State militant group near Mosul as major offensive continued to seize more ground around the city, a source said.

The Iraqi Army on Saturday morning stormed Hamdaniyah, some 40 km southeast of Mosul, from several directions and took control of the town after heavy clashes with the militants, Xinhua news agency quoted the source as saying.

The troops raised the Iraqi flag on the local government building in Hamdaniyah, which is also known as Bakhdida, the source said.

They also took control of the nearby Christian village of Karamlis after the IS militants fled their positions, the source said.

Heavy battles are underway in Nineveh Plain, which lies to the east and northeast of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh.

Various religious and ethnic minority groups, mostly Assyrian Christians, inhabit the villages and towns of the vast plain.

Many members of the minorities in the plain have fled during the chaos and ensuing insecurity that followed the US-led invasion in 2003.

Another wave of exodus, of mostly non-Sunni Muslim minorities, came after June 2014, when the extremist IS group took control of Nineveh province and seized large parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, on October 17 announced the beginning of a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country’s second largest city.

Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when the government forces fled the city after clashes with the group.