Duhok – The Kurdish Peshmerga on Monday secured the Bashiqa District northeast of Mosul, after breaking through the Islamic State’s (ISIS) defensive lines and encircling the capital of the district, Bashiqa city.
“Bashiqa city and the surrounding villages are ISIS-free now. Today we hit the last ISIS stronghold and liberated the area from those terrorists,” Peshmerga officer Izzadin Wanki told ARA News.
Kurdish forces had besieged Bashiqa city for two weeks. They kept up a protracted bombardment of the local ISIS headquarters until the final holdouts were forced to withdraw toward Mosul city.
According to the Peshmerga officer Wanki, dozens of ISIS militants were captured alive by the Peshmerga. “Today the Peshmerga achieved a great victory by liberating Bashiqa. This was a major gain in the battle for Mosul,” he told ARA News.
The US-led coalition provided an air cover to the Kurdish Peshmerga during the Bashiqa operation. Thousands of Peshmerga soldiers participated in the multi-prong offensive.
“The morale of ISIS is gone; they have become very weak,” Peshmerga General Bahram Ali Siyasi, the commander of the Bashiqa operation, told ARA News. “Whereas the Peshmerga’s morale is high and their capabilities have improved, and the coalition has stepped up its support.”
More than 30,000 civilians used to inhabit Bashiqa city, including Christians, Arabs, Kurds and Shiites. After the Islamic State’s invasion in August 2014, most of the inhabitants fled to the Kurdistan Region.
Reporting by: Eyaz Ciziri & Issa Ali | Source: ARA News