Iraqi army fighters. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Iraqi army has taken control of at least two villages near Gayara on the outskirts of Mosul on Saturday morning, following fierce fighting with the Islamic State (ISIS), an Iraqi officer told Rudaw.
“On Saturday morning, the Iraqi army launched an operation near Gayara and managed to liberate the villages of Jadaa and Aoujba, which lie along the Gayara bridge,” said Tahseen Saeed, an Iraqi army officer.
“ISIS tried to halt the Iraqi army advance by attacking with suicide bombers. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up, with no casualties to us reported,” said Saeed.
In its continued operation to Gayara from ISIS, the Iraqi army recaptured the village of Imam on Friday morning.
ISIS militants put up little resistance to the advancing troops and engineering teams started defusing explosives the militants had left behind.
Gayara, located on the western bank of the Tigris river, has been the focus of the military for the past two months.
Iraqi forces launched an operation in February towards the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, where they have retaken more than a dozen villages since.
Gayara is a former Iraqi army air base that has been used by ISIS as a bomb-making center, according to military officials.
Iraqi military officials say that victories in the Gayara area bring them closer to Mosul, which has been under ISIS control for two years.
Previously known as the Saddam Airbase, Gayara played a crucial role during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.