Iraq: Peshmerga in heavy gun battles with ISIL near Mosul
Nov.7, Tehran: Iraqi Kurdish fighters are exchanging heavy fire with ISIL fighters as they advance from two directions on a town held by the armed group just 13km east of the city of Mosul.
The town of Bashiqa has been surrounded by Kurdish Peshmerga forces for weeks.
Monday's push appears to be the most serious yet to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) from the area, which is to the northeast of Mosul, the group's last major urban bastion in the country.
Al Jazeera's Mohammad Jamjoom, reporting from the frontline near Bashiqa, said "it was the biggest push yet to try to take control of Bashiqa since the battle for Mosul began".
"The Peshmerga fighters are optimistic. They say there are only about 100 to 200 ISIL fighters left as well as possibly three very high ranking ISIL commanders," he said before adding there was black smoke rising from the city and its surrounding areas, signaling ISIL's tactic of burning tyres and oil to limit aerial vision and create suffocating smells.
There were also white plumes of smoke from US-led coalition air strikes over the city, he said.
"As far as civilians go, the Peshmerga fighters believe that most of the civilians have already fled the town."
The Oslo Times International News Network