Iraqi government forces advancing toward the city of Mosul, which is held by the extremist Islamic State (IS) group, retook a village from the militants on July 12, linking up along the Tigris River with army troops that have been advancing from a separate direction.
Iraq's Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi said the territorial gain further isolates Mosul ahead of a planned government assault to recapture the northern city.
The advance to the south of Mosul brought the village of Ajhala back under government control to the north of the Qayara Air Base, which was retaken by government forces on July 9.
It also cuts off IS fighters near Mosul that are now in towns behind the front lines of government forces.
The development comes a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during a visit to Baghdad that 560 more U.S. soldiers are being deployed at Qayara Air Base to establish a combat staging hub for the long-awaited battle to recapture Mosul from IS militants.
Based on reporting by Retuers, AP, and AFP