Iraq's military closed in on Wednesday on the center of Shirqat, a northern town held by Islamic State seen as a stepping stone in the campaign to recapture the jihadists' stronghold of Mosul.
The army, backed by local police and Sunni Muslim tribal fighters, have taken 12 nearby villages since launching the operation on Tuesday morning, said Ali Dawdah, the mayor of Shirqat currently based in Erbil.
With air support from a U.S.-led coalition, the troops are now less than 3 km (2 miles) from the town center, according to Dawdah, who said he expected the campaign to be concluded within 48 hours.
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