World Bulletin / News Desk
The Iraqi army and its allies on Monday announced the recapture of five more villages near the northern city of Mosul, according to official statements.
The assertions come hours after the army’s Joint Operations Command announced the launch of the second phase of the campaign -- now in its third week -- to retake the city from the ISIL extremist group.
"Iraqi army forces have managed to capture the villages of Tobruk and Tahrawa southeast of Mosul," Lieutenant-General Abdul-Amir Yarallah, head of the Iraqi army’s Nineveh Operations Command, said in a statement read out on state television.
In a separate statement, the army’s War Information Unit declared that security forces had also retaken the villages of Najmoum and Tal al-Yabis, both of which are located north of the ISIL-held city.
According to a third statement issued by the Hashd al-Shaabi, an umbrella group of pro-government Shia militias operating in tandem with the Iraqi army, Shia militiamen had captured the village of Eastern Dalawiyah west of Mosul.
In a related development the same day, 13 ISIL militants were killed -- and 22 others injured -- by a fierce aerial bombardment by U.S.-led coalition warplanes of ISIL positions inside Mosul, according to Army Major Muhannad Saif al-Din.
"Coalition aircraft in recent hours have stepped up their activities over the skies of Mosul, forcing the militants to retreat from their positions towards residential parts of the city," Saif al-Din said.
Since the Mosul operation began two weeks ago, dozens of ISIL-held villages on the city’s outskirts have fallen before the army onslaught.
Nevertheless, the extremist group remains in control of the city, which it overran in mid-2014.
On Oct. 18, the Iraqi army, backed by a U.S.-led air coalition, began a wide-ranging operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and capital of the northern Nineveh province.
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