Duhok – Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces have dismantled hundreds of landmines and explosive devices in Bashiqa city and its countryside over the past few days, military sources reported on Thursday.
The Kurdish Peshmerga secured the Bashiqa District northeast of Mosul on 6 November, after three weeks of heavy fighting against the Islamic State’s (ISIS) militants. The Peshmerga forces liberated the district after breaking through the ISIS defensive lines and encircling the capital of the district, Bashiqa city.
“After liberating Bashiqa city and the surrounding villages from ISIS terrorists, our special teams started clearing the area in order to secure the return of the displaced local civilians,” Peshmerga officer Izzadin Wanki told ARA News.
“Hundreds of improvised explosive devices and landmines have been dismantled during the last three weeks,” the Peshmerga official said, adding that clearing the district from ISIS leftovers is taking longer than expected “due to the large amount of explosives left behind by ISIS”.
According to Hassan Ramadan, a Peshmerga fighter, the Islamic State group resorts to planting landmines in order to impede the progress of its enemies.
“In every area where the terrorist group suffers a tight siege, its militants start to spread explosives and landmines all over that area. The main goal is to impede the advance of rival forces and to cause as many civilian casualties as possible once displaced people start to return home,” Ramadan 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. 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.
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: Mir Yaqoub and Eyaz Ciziri | Source: ARA News