Middle East

Iraq PM announces recapture of key base from IS militants

  • An Iraqi places a flowers on an impromptu shrine outside a Baghdad shopping mall targeted last Sunday by a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group, in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 9, 2016. The truck bombing which killed at least 186 people was Iraq's deadliest bombing since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi)

    An Iraqi places a flowers on an impromptu shrine outside a Baghdad shopping mall targeted last Sunday by a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group, in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 9, 2016. The truck bombing which killed at least 186 people was Iraq's deadliest bombing since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Members of the government-backed “Popular Mobilization” forces chant slogans during a procession staged in memory of the victims of a deadly truck bombing on a central Baghdad shopping mall last week by an Islamic State group suicide bomber, in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi)

    Members of the government-backed “Popular Mobilization” forces chant slogans during a procession staged in memory of the victims of a deadly truck bombing on a central Baghdad shopping mall last week by an Islamic State group suicide bomber, in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iraqi tribal dignitaries chant slogans during a rally staged in memory of the victims of a deadly truck bombing on a central Baghdad shopping mall last week by an Islamic State group suicide bomber, in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi)

    Iraqi tribal dignitaries chant slogans during a rally staged in memory of the victims of a deadly truck bombing on a central Baghdad shopping mall last week by an Islamic State group suicide bomber, in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi)  (The Associated Press)

Iraq's prime minister says government forces have recaptured a key air base in northern Iraq from the Islamic State group.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi describes the recapture of the Qayara air base as "important" to the long-awaited military operation to retake the IS-held city of Mosul. The town of Qayara is located southeast of Mosul.

Al-Abadi called on "the residents of Mosul to get ready to liberate their city."

In late March, the Iraqi military, backed by U.S.-led coalition aircraft, launched an operation to recapture several towns and villages to the east and south of Mosul to cut the city's supply lines.