Iraqi and Kurdish Forces 'Tighten the Noose' around Islamic StateWorld | October 20, 2016, Thursday // 12:09| views
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position behind sandbags on the front line in Bashiqa, near Mosul. Photo: Jonathan Raa/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire / DPA.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces on Thursday launched a major advance north and northeast of Mosul, Islamic State's stronghold in Iraq, on the fourth day of a mission to recapture the city.
"A large-scale operation was launched by Peshmerga Forces from [the] north and north-east of Mosul as part of the ongoing campaign to clear ISIL terrorists from Ninewa province," the DPA quotes the General Command of Peshmerga Forces of Kurdistan Region as saying.
It added that the operation aimed "to tighten the noose around ISIL," using an acronym for the extremist group, and said it would strike on three fronts following on from gains made by Peshmerga and Iraq forces in the south.
Meanwhile, largely-Shiite militias, known as Hashd al-Shaabi, arrived on the western front, a statement by the group said on Facebook.
According to the BBC, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi meanwhile announced the operation to retake Mosul was progressing faster than planned.
Islamic State (IS) captured Mosul and other large areas of Sunni-populated northern and western Iraq in a lightning offensive in mid-2014.
After a series of gains by security forces over the past 18 months, it is now the only major Iraqi city held by the jihadists.
IS still holds territory in neighbouring Syria, though there too it is on the back foot.