Iraqi forces launch push to take town near Mosul from IS

BAGHDAD (AP) " Iraqi forces have launched a new military operation to recapture a key town north of Baghdad from the Islamic State group.

The push to take Shirqat is backed by paramilitary troops, mostly Shiite militiamen. The town lies near the city of Mosul, which is the IS group's last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the operation in a televised statement aired on Tuesday from New York where he's attending the U.N. General Assembly meetings.

Al-Abadi described the operation as a "new phase for the heroic operations."

It's unclear yet if the forces are backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

Shirqat, about 155 miles (250 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, was among the first areas to fall into IS hands in the militants' June 2014 blitz.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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