World Bulletin / News Desk
The Iraqi army Monday recaptured from ISIL the Christian town of Qaraqosh near Mosul, according to an army officer.
"The Iraqi joint forces have carried out combing operations in the town, which was totally evacuated of its Christian majority residents in 2014," Mohammed al-Jubouri said.
Qaraqosh is located about 20 kilometers (13 miles) southeast of Mosul and considered the main entrance to the ISIL-held city.
Last week, the Iraqi army -- backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes -- launched a much-anticipated operation to retake Mosul, the last ISIL stronghold in northern Iraq.
ISIL captured Iraq’s second largest city in mid-2014 before overrunning large swathes of territory in the country’s northern and western regions.
In recent weeks, the army and its allies have staged a gradual advance on the city, which officials in Baghdad have vowed to recapture by year’s end.