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Iraqi troops expand grip in Mosul

Militants have been steadily retreating from areas around Mosul into the city since the battle started on Oct. 17

Published: Updated:

US-backed Iraqi troops expanded their foothold on the eastern side of ISIS’s stronghold of Mosul on Friday, as the group pledged to mount more suicide attacks on their offensive to take the city.

The elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) stormed the Tahrir district on the northeastern edge of Mosul, the last major city under control of the extremist group in Iraq.

Militants have been steadily retreating from areas around Mosul into the city since the battle started on Oct. 17, with air and ground support from a US-led coalition.

“The advance is slow due to the civilians,” said CTS Lt. General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi, adding that the US-trained unit aims to clear the rest of the neighborhood during the day.

As the offensive entered its second month, Iraqi government forces are still fighting in a dozen of about 50 neighborhoods on the eastern part of Mosul, which is divided by the Tigris River that runs through its center.

Militants are dug in among the civilians as a defense tactic to hamper air strikes, moving around the city through tunnels, driving suicide car bombs into advancing troops and hitting them with sniper and mortar fire.