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Iraqi-led forces clash with ISIS in push to free Christian town

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01:16 - Source: CNN
Dramatic moments from the battle for Mosul

Story highlights

Forces exchange heavy gunfire with ISIS in Christian town of Qaraqosh

NEW: ISIS distributes leaflet telling Mosul residents to turn in SIM cards

Near Mosul, Iraq CNN —  

In the push to free Mosul, Kurdish Peshmerga forces ideally wanted a political plan – not just a military one – to help retake the city from ISIS, Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said.

“We would have loved to have a political plan along with a military plan, how to manage Mosul, how to administer Mosul, because Mosul has a variety of religions, with ethnicities,” Barzani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

But he acknowledged that having one probably “would have taken a longer time.”

The operation to free Mosul from two years of ISIS rule marks the first time Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces have fought against a common enemy, Barzani said.

“We are looking for a good solution for Mosul,” he said.

But the battle to free Iraq’s second-largest city could be marked with months of bloody fighting.

Attempt to free Christian town

On the road to Mosul, Iraqi-led forces have besieged a Christian town in an attempt to liberate it from ISIS control, but they are facing fierce resistance and exchanging heavy gunfire with militants, a paramilitary general told CNN.

Iraqi security forces, Peshmerga fighters and a Christian paramilitary group have forced ISIS fighters into the center of Qaraqosh, where airstrikes are pounding the militants, in apparent coalition support of the assault, Gen. Amr Shamoun from the Christian militia group said.

It’s the latest clash with ISIS militants in the coalition’s aggressive push toward Mosul aimed at unshackling the strategic city from the terror group’s brutal control.

The operation has been complicated since ISIS apparently brought civilians into Qaraqosh, which was abandoned after militants took over in 2014.

Part of Qaraqosh has already been liberated, Shamoun said.