Middle East

Iraqi Kurdish forces advance on IS-held town east of Mosul

  • An Iraqi army soldier sits atop an armored vehicle on the outskirts of Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. On the southern front, Iraqi forces are still some 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the city center. The fighting is centered on the town of Hamam al-Alil, where Associated Press journalists could hear gunfire and saw attack helicopters firing on IS positions. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    An Iraqi army soldier sits atop an armored vehicle on the outskirts of Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. On the southern front, Iraqi forces are still some 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the city center. The fighting is centered on the town of Hamam al-Alil, where Associated Press journalists could hear gunfire and saw attack helicopters firing on IS positions. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

  • Armored vehicles move towards Hamam al-Alil from Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    Armored vehicles move towards Hamam al-Alil from Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

  • Kurdish Peshmerga convoy drives towards a frontline in Bashiqa, east of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. Iraqi Kurdish fighters are exchanging heavy fighters with militants as they advance from two directions on a town held by the Islamic State group east of the city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    Kurdish Peshmerga convoy drives towards a frontline in Bashiqa, east of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. Iraqi Kurdish fighters are exchanging heavy fighters with militants as they advance from two directions on a town held by the Islamic State group east of the city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

Iraqi Kurdish fighters are exchanging heavy fighters with militants as they advance from two directions on a town held by the Islamic State group east of the city of Mosul.

The town of Bashiqa has been surrounded by Kurdish forces known as peshmerga for weeks. Monday's push appears to be the most serious yet to drive IS from the area, which is about 13 kilometers (8 miles) northeast of Mosul.

Kurdish forces launched mortar rounds and fired heavy artillery into the town on Sunday in advance of the offensive.

As the Kurdish forces advance, more artillery and air strikes are hitting the town.

The three-week-long Mosul offensive has slowed down in recent days as Iraqi forces have pushed into more densely populated areas of the city.