Iraqi Kurdish forces have taken the town of Bashiqa from the Daesh terrorist organisation, according to the minister responsible for the Kurdish regional government’s peshmerga forces.
Jabar Yawar said that the town, which is only 12 km (8 miles) from Mosul, was now under the "complete control" of his forces and they "are clearing mines and sweeping the city."
Peshmerga, Iraqi Army and Shia militia forces have been taking part in a joint offensive to retake Mosul from Daesh since October 17. The city was the second largest in Iraq in terms of population before it fell to the group in June 2014.
The capture of Bashiqa helps in securing the eastern route into Mosul, which has a high strategic importance due to its location near the Tigris river and at a crossroads between the rest of Iraq, northern Syria, Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, and Turkey.
However, an AFP correspondent reported that fighting was continuing in some parts of the town, after they overheard gunfire and explosions. There have been reports that snipers and suicide bombers are still in the area.
The town has also been in the news recently as it located near to a camp run by Turkey, which has been training Iraqis to take part in the fight against Daesh.
The presence of Turkish soldiers at the camp was criticised by the Iraqi government in early October, but Turkey has said the troops are there at the invitation of the Kurdish regional government and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and they will stay.