Iraqi troops retake key town close to Mosul from Islamic State
The Iraqi prime minister has said his country's forces have retaken the key town of Qayara, near a major air base south of Mosul, from the Islamic State group.
Haider al-Abadi said the victory marks an "important step" on the road to Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city which has been in IS hands for over two years now. The statement was released by Mr al-Abadi's office on Thursday.
Iraqi troops launched the operation to retake Qayara this week, more than a month after retaking the nearby air base from IS.
Iraqi officials have repeatedly pledged that Mosul will be retaken this year. Qayara is located 45 miles south of Mosul.
Iraq's Ministry of Defence said the army's 9th division and the country's elite special forces took part in the operation that was closely supported by coalition airpower.
Separately, Iraqi officials say a series of bombings and shootings across the Iraqi capital has killed 13 people and wounded 24. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The police said separate roadside bombings on busy commercial streets in northern and southern Baghdad killed five and wounded 17 on Thursday. Two sticky bombs attached to cars just south and east of Baghdad killed two and wounded seven.
And three shootings in different Baghdad neighbourhoods killed six people.