Iraqi soldiers gather to go battle against Islamic State militants south of Mosul, Iraq, June 15, 2016. REUTERS/STRINGER
Reuters: Iraqi forces link up south of Mosul, tightening noose around Islamic State
Iraqi government forces advancing on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul retook a village from IS on Tuesday and linked up along the Tigris river with army units pushing from a separate direction, Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi said.
The territorial gain, which followed the recapture of a key air base nearby at the weekend, further isolated Mosul in preparation for a government assault to recover Iraq's second largest city 60 km (40 miles) further north.
"Forces from the 9th Armoured Division and the counter-terrorism service liberated Ajhala village north of Qayara base," Obeidi said on Twitter.
"Our heroes arrived at the riverbank and made contact with Nineveh Liberation Operation units," he added, referring to troops who had set out from Makhmour, 25 km west of the Tigris, in March.
The newly retaken territory still needs to be secured since IS insurgents remain holed up in several towns behind the government's front line, a military spokesman said.
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WNU Editor: Iraqi forces are still far away from Mosul .... Iraq seizes air base 25 miles south of Mosul away from Islamic State (UPI). And while I do believe that Mosul will be the Islamic State's last stand in Iraq .... Mosul: ISIS’s Last Stand in Iraq? (WSJ) .... I will be surprised if Mosul is retaken this year.