VIDEO: Happiness among Iraqi Soldiers after Retaking Qayara from ISIS Militants
Iraqi forces retook the key town of Qayara, near a major air base south of Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) group on Thursday, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the victory marks an “important step” on the road to Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest which has been in the IS group hands for over two years now.
Footage taken by The Associated Press showed Iraqi soldiers celebrating by their vehicles parked in Qayara as black smoke from burning oil rose above the town.
Iraqi troops launched the operation to retake Qayara this week, more than a month after retaking the nearby air base from the ISIS terrorist group.
Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said the army’s 9th division and the country’s elite Special Forces took part in the operation that was closely supported by coalition airpower.
Iraqi officials have repeatedly pledged that Mosul will be retaken this year. Qayara is located 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Mosul.