- Top Story
- or Log in
FRANCE 24’s reporters followed Iraqi Kurdish forces as they discovered a warren of tunnels used by Islamic State group fighters in the town of Bashiqa, near Mosul.
Peshmerga forces recaptured Bashiqa from IS this week, after street fighting and air strikes that heavily damaged many of the town’s low, brightly painted homes and rows of shops.
Seizing it was a final step in securing the eastern approaches to Mosul, three weeks into an offensive by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition to retake the country’s second city.
“The battle for Bashiqa is over – at least overground. But beneath the surface there is a warren of tunnels where IS group fighters could still be hiding”, said Robert Parsons, FRANCE 24’s special correspondent in Iraq.
At least one senior officer lost his life on Tuesday when a trio of suicide bombers emerged from a tunnel mouth in eastern Bashiqa.
“A major general came back from retirement to fight Daesh here. Suicide bombers jumped out of one of the tunnels. He was able to kill two of them, but the third one detonated himself,” Weis said.
Another tunnel entrance in the same house could be entered via a crude set of dirt steps.
A lanky peshmerga fighter who identified himself as Corporal Idris peered into the tunnel and fired his assault rifle into the abyss, pausing to listen for any return fire or ricochet.
He pulled his shirt over his nose and mouth and ventured a few metres into the tunnel before turning back.
“We are still not sure what is in there. It’s better to stay above ground,” he said.