Kurdish journalist killed in Northern Iraq fighting

Incident caused by a mortar round fired into village recently retaken by the peshmerga from ISIS

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An Iraqi Kurdish reporter was killed and another wounded on Sunday during a military operation against the Islamic State group in northern Iraq, officials said.

The incident occurred during an operation launched by the Kurdish peshmerga forces near Mosul, the country’s second city and the terror organization’s de facto capital in Iraq.

The journalists, working together for Kurdistan TV, were following peshmerga forces involved in the assault which began early Sunday.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party, which owns the channel, announced the death in a statement.

“We deplore the loss... of cameraman Mustafa Said from the Kurdistan TV satellite channel and the injury of correspondent Hayman Nanqli,” the KDP media office said in a statement.

It said the incident was caused by a mortar round fired into a village recently retaken by the peshmerga from ISIS.

Iraq’s Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a press freedom NGO, confirmed the cameraman’s death.

A peshmerga commander said the goal of the operation was to secure a part of the Nineveh plain between Mosul and Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region.

“A military operation was launched this morning... to recapture 10 villages on the eastern bank of the Khazr river (and) has so far succeeded in recapturing six,” Colonel Muwaffaq Zebari told an AFP reporter on the frontline.

He said the ground operation was getting air support from the US-led coalition and was aimed at preventing further ISIS attacks on an area called Gweyr, about 40 kilometers southeast of Mosul.

A senior officer in the peshmerga, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said seven members of the Kurdish forces were also killed in the fighting, but no official confirmation was immediately available.

Last ISIS-held city

Mosul is the last remaining city controlled by ISIS in Iraq and the next big military target for the myriad forces battling the militant group in the country.

The Kurdish advance east of Mosul on Sunday is part of shaping operations that have been taking place on several fronts for weeks.

Federal forces have also been working their way northwards up the Tigris river valley in a bid to set up bases around Mosul and start tightening the noose around ISIS’s last major bastion.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to retake Mosul and rid the country of ISIS by the end of 2016.