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Iraqi Forces Storm Christian Town Near Mosul

An Iraqi family returns to their village after it was liberated from Islamic State militants south of Mosul on October 21, 2016.

Iraqi troops have stormed a mostly Christian town that has been under the control of the extremist group Islamic State (IS) since 2014 in in their ongoing offensive to capture Mosul, the militants’ last major stronghold in Iraq.

The forces reached the center of Hamdaniyah, also known as Qaraqosh, and raised the Iraqi flag there, reports said.

The town, located about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the key city of Mosul, is believed to be largely uninhabited.

The operation took place as U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Iraq to hold talks with Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and assess the Mosul offensive that started on October 17 with air and ground support from the U.S-led coalition.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa