By Jamal Badrani
Iraqi forces have fully seized control of the center of Qayyara district in northern Iraq, a senior military commander said Thursday.
“Iraqi forces have began the last phase of liberating Qayyara from terrorist Daesh gangs,” general Moen al-Saadi told Anadolu Agency.
He said more than 30 Daesh militants were killed in clashes with Iraqi troops since morning.
“Qayyara will be fully liberated from Daesh on Friday,” he expected.
Qayyara governor Saleh Hassan earlier told Anadolu Agency Iraqi troops had managed to retake 80 percent of territory in the district.
“Fighting is raging on in the northern part of the district,” he said, going on to say that some Daesh militants had fled Qayyara toward Mosul.
Backed by U.S.-led warplanes, Iraqi troops launched an operation on Tuesday to liberate Qayyara, a strategically important area for Iraqi forces planning to capture Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from Daesh.
Qayyarah is the largest area in the northern Nineveh province and has an oil refinery with a capacity of 16,000 barrels per day.
Daesh group has seized control of vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq in 2014. Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led warplanes, however, have managed to retake most of the territory.