Iraqi forces say they are close to pushing out Islamic State fighters from the region surrounding Amerli, a northern town they liberated two weeks ago. Mana Rabiee reports.
A wind swept plain near the village Albouhassan in northern Iraq. This is close to the town of Amerli, which government forces jubilantly liberated from Islamic State militants two weeks ago. Village by village, they're trying to regain control of the Amerli region and they say they've almost pushed back the Sunni fighters from Albouhassan village. They're backed by Shiite militias, including the Saraya Salam Brigade, or the 'Brigades of Peace'. Their militia flag stands guard. The operation started at dawn. It included shelling, mortar fire and air strikes. Colonel Mustafa Hussein is leading this operation. He says his forces have already liberated some other villages in the surrounding area (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IRAQI ARMY COLONEL, MOSTAFA HUSSEIN, SAYING: ''Our furthest position is about 400 meters from ISIS positions and we are adamant that today we will liberate Albouhassan.'' The men drive towards the frontline. Several towns near Amerli are still under Islamic State control. The militants took control of entire swaths of northern Iraq as well as Syria and announced an Islamic Caliphate in areas they control. U.S. President Barack Obama plans to strike both sides of the Iraq-Syria border to defeat Islamic State. He's hoping to build an international coalition for a potentially complex military campaign here, in the heart of the Middle East.