Kurdish fighters backed by coalition air strikes have seized large swaths of territory from Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq, including a road used by Isis to supply the key city of Mosul.
In a major offensive launched on Wednesday, the peshmerga have fought their way to within 12 miles of the city centre and cut off a road that connects Mosul to Tal Afar and Sinjar.
In recent days the Kurds have retaken a 185 sq mile area of Sinjar province, west of Mosul, putting Isis on the back foot and tightening the noose around the city.
There is growing speculation that Iraqi government troops may be gearing up for an attack on Mosul, which jihadist fighters have occupied since June when they advanced rapidly across Iraq’s north.
Until this week, Islamist militants were able to transfer goods, petrol and military equipment from eastern Syria into Mosul, Iraq’s second city and the biggest urban centre under their control. The Kurds have now shut off the city from three sides. They also now control several key villages and intersections.
“I don’t think anyone would envy the situation the people of Mosul are in,” Masrour Barzani, the head of Kurdistan’s regional security council, said on Wednesday. “The terror of Isis is too much for anyone to handle.”
Barzani predicted that Mosul would soon be “liberated”, and he said recent Kurdish advances had significantly reduced Isis’s freedom of movement.
On Thursday residents said conditions in Mosul had dramatically worsened. Once known as a cradle of multiculturalism in Iraq, Mosul has turned into a city where executions and stonings are carried out on a regular basis and residents are deprived of basic rights and services. Click here for the rest of the Article