Iraq fully captures Sharqat district from Islamic State as Mosul battle looms

Iraq-fully-captures-sharqat-district-from-islamic-state-as-mosul-battle-looms.  SHARQAT, Iraq,  Iraqi security forces have taken full control of the Saladin Governorate’s Sharqat district away from the Islamic State with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

In this image, Iraqi soldiers during clash with Islamic State militants at Shuhadaa neighborhood in Fallujah, Iraq, June 7. The city of Fallujah was retaken by Iraqi security forces earlier this year — aided by the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition. On Thursday, Iraqi security force took control of the Saladin Governorate’s Sharqat district away from the Islamic State, which cut off a supply route to IS-held Mosul. File Photo by Abbas Mohammed/UPI | License Photo

More than 160,000 people had been displaced from Sharqat due to the conflict with the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.

 Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul said Iraqi security forces liberated “the district of Sharqat completely from the control of terrorism” on Thursday.
 “Within 72 hours, our armed forces have fought a swift and unique battle resulted in the full liberation of Sharqat and raising the Iraqi flag over its governmental offices,” Rasoul said in a statement, Iraqi News reported.

An Iraqi army officer told ARA News that hundreds of Islamic State militants were killed in the battle for Sharqat.

“In the coming days, the Iraqi troops will work on dismantling explosives left by Daesh in the district,” the source said.

A key supply route between Sharqat and IS-held Mosul was cut off on Wednesday prior to the full recapture of the district.

The battle to take Mosul has been held off for months, though Iraqi security forces — aided by the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition — have recaptured surrounding areas and targeted IS positions. The Islamic State captured Mosul as part of a land grab in 2014.

By Andrew V. Pestano