Iraq army takes key town on road to Mosul from IS

Iraqi forces backed by coalition air strikes on Thursday pushed the Islamic State militants from Qayyarah.

Regaining control of the town and the nearby airbase would help government troops' effort to free Iraq's last major IS stronghold in Mosul, which is located some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Iraq's defense minister was removed from his post Thursday after getting a no-confidence vote from the parliament, according to Iraq's state-run television.

But after reviewing the case, Iraq's judiciary released the parliamentary speaker citing a lack of evidence, and a number of lawmakers demanded a vote of no confidence be held against al-Obeidi. "I tried with everything to fight corruption but it appears that its masters are stronger, their voices louder and their actions more enduring". Al-Obeidi's departure was precipitated by infighting among the country's Sunni political parties, rather than by friction between Sunnis and Shiites. Al-Abadi said the victory marks an "important step" on the road to Mosul.

The commander said engineering units were now clearing the town, which lies about 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Mosul, of unexploded ordnance and booby traps.

Security forces began a military campaign two months ago, aimed at recapturing Al-Shirqat district in Saladin province and Qayyara in Nineveh province, from the terrorist group. Iraq's Ministry of Defense 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.

He said Iraqi forces and allied fighters had killed a large number of foreign Daesh fighters in al-Khalidiya Island, 23km east of Ramadi.

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