“It was a very good meeting, seeing everybody here in Erbil, very encouraged by the progress of your Peshmerga and Iraqi forces, so I’m feeling very good about it,” said Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.
Turkish artillery and tanks in Bashiqa have fired on ISIS positions, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Sunday, Turkish media has reported.
The airbase at Qayyara is now operational, with planes landing, says US Central Command.
Peshmerga forces have “achieved their primary objective” for today, the General Command of the Peshmerga Forces announced in a statement released Sunday afternoon.
In today’s large-scale operation near the town of Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul, they have cordoned off eight villages in approximately 100 square kilometers of territory.
“Today's resounding successful operation, which was achieved ahead of time, positions Peshmerga Forces less than 9 km from the outskirts of Mosul,” reads the statement.
The Kurdish forces approaching from both east and west of Mt. Bashiqa met south of the town at midday and have now cordoned off Bir Halan, Faziliya, Omar Qapchi, Kanone, Bahzan, Khrab Dalil, Tis Khrab Bchuk and Tis Khrab Gawra villages.
They have also taken control of a portion of the Bashiqa-Mosul highway, preventing ISIS reinforcements from reaching Mosul.
The Peshmerga were backed by coalition airstrikes which destroyed three vehicle-bound IEDs (VBIEDs). The Peshmerga destroyed another at least five VBIEDs and three motorcycles.
Several senior ISIS leaders were killed in today’s clashes, “including the emir in Bashiqa, Abu Faruq, and five other senior local figures: Abu Naser, Abu Karal, Abu Hassan and Abu Abdulrahman.”
The Peshmerga did not release any details of casualties or injuries among the Kurdish forces.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter congratulated Kurdish President Masoud Barzani for the success of the Mosul operation and praised the performance of the Peshmerga, Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook tweeted.
Peshmerga forces have surrounded the ISIS-held town of Bashiqa 20 kilometers east of Mosul, Rudaw correspondent Hevidar Ahmed reports from the frontline. He says there are civilians trapped there.
As a suicide car bomber races toward them, Peshmerga forces aim and shoot at the bomber, detonating the explosives before the suicide attacker reaches their lines.
Fuad Hussein, President Barzani's Chief of Staff:
Barzani and Carter discussed developments in Erbil-Baghdad relations. In the meeting, Turkish involvement in Iraq was discussed in detail. The offensive is intended to end ISIS and bring back stability to people.
US support for Peshmerga was reiterated.
Peshmerga forces are 'just seven kilometers away from Mosul,' Jamal Iminiki, chief of staff of the Peshmerga forces, told Rudaw. He added that the militants remain trapped in Bashiqa and 'will all end up dying.' The Peshmerga have advanced to Bashiqa from the southern part of the town, he explained. 'ISIS is doing anything it can to halt the Peshmerga from advancing, but there is absolutely nothing they can do.' He said the militants in Bashiqa refuse to surrender because they are all suicide bombers.
US Air Force engineers say they have repaired and opened a badly damaged but strategic airfield in the town of Qayyara south of Mosul that will 'help the Iraqi army to bring the fight to ISIL.'
US delegation led by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter meets with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and senior officials in Erbil.
Fighting between Peshmerga and ISIS in Bashiqa
Two improvised car bombs detonated by Peshmerga forces and one by warplanes from the US-led coalition near Bashiqa, a Rudaw reporter says.
The main Bashiqa-Mosul road now under Peshmerga control.
An ISIS emir identified as Abu Karar gunned down by Peshmerga at Faziliya village.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in meeting with Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani and military officials after arriving in Erbil from Baghdad.
Peshmerga forces control several villages in Bashiqa, Brig. Bahram Arif Yaseen, a Peshmerga commander told Rudaw.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched a major offensive against ISIS positions at the town of Bashiqa northeast of Mosul as part of an ongoing operation against the extremist group in its Iraq stronghold.