Middle East

Iraqi Kurdish troops take more ground east of IS-held Mosul

  • Civilians flee villages outside Mosul the day after Iraqi Kurdish forces launch an operation east of the Islamic State-held city in Iraq on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. The Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga say they have retaken 12 villages in the operation in an effort to encircle the city. (AP Photo/Susannah George)

    Civilians flee villages outside Mosul the day after Iraqi Kurdish forces launch an operation east of the Islamic State-held city in Iraq on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. The Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga say they have retaken 12 villages in the operation in an effort to encircle the city. (AP Photo/Susannah George)  (The Associated Press)

  • Civilians flee villages outside Mosul the day after Iraqi Kurdish forces launch an operation  east of Islamic State-held Mosul on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. The Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga say they have retaken 12 villages in the operation in an effort to encircle the city. (AP Photo/Susannah George)

    Civilians flee villages outside Mosul the day after Iraqi Kurdish forces launch an operation east of Islamic State-held Mosul on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. The Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga say they have retaken 12 villages in the operation in an effort to encircle the city. (AP Photo/Susannah George)  (The Associated Press)

  • A family from the Shenif area outside Mosul flees clashes between Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Islamic State group east of Mosul on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. Iraqi Kurdish forces say they have retaken 12 villages from the Islamic State group Monday, in a fresh push on the militant held city. (AP Photo/Susannah George)

    A family from the Shenif area outside Mosul flees clashes between Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Islamic State group east of Mosul on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. Iraqi Kurdish forces say they have retaken 12 villages from the Islamic State group Monday, in a fresh push on the militant held city. (AP Photo/Susannah George)  (The Associated Press)

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces say they have completed the operation to retake a string of villages east of the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group, an advance that is part of laying the groundwork ahead of the key battle for Iraq's second-largest city.

Brig. Gen. Dedewan Khurshid Tofiq said on Tuesday that a bridge, taken the day before and leading to southeastern Mosul, could facilitate a troop buildup along an eastern Mosul front. Tofiq says the bridge needs to be repaired first.

Iraqi forces and the Kurdish troops are seeking to encircle Mosul, which has been under IS control for more than two years. It's the last major IS urban stronghold in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has pledge to defeat IS in Iraq this year.