Iraqi forces progress against ISIS in Mosul

Second phase will see US troops deployed closer to the front line inside the city

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Iraqi forces faced fierce resistance from ISIS militants in southern Mosul on Friday, the second day of a renewed push to take back the city after fighting stalled for several weeks.

An officer in the federal police forces, which joined the battle on Thursday, said there were heavy clashes in the southeastern Palestine district, but they had made progress in two other neighborhoods, disabling a number of car bombs.

Another officer, from an elite Interior Ministry unit fighting alongside federal police, said his forces were gaining ground in the Intisar district despite heavy clashes there.

Supply lines cut

Iraqi forces in the east and north of the city were clearing areas they had recaptured on Thursday before advancing any further, officers said, and the army was trying to cut supply lines to the town of Tel Keyf, north of Mosul.

Since the offensive began 10 weeks ago, US-backed forces have retaken a quarter of the militants’ last major stronghold in Iraq.

After regrouping this month, the elite forces and regular army troops renewed the offensive on Thursday, advancing from the south, east and north of the city.

The second phase of the operation will see US troops deployed closer to the front line inside the city.

On Friday, a Reuters reporter saw a handful of Americans in their MRAP vehicles, that tower over Iraqi tanks, accompanying top commanders to meetings in a village just north of Mosul.

Although the militants are vastly outnumbered, they have embedded themselves among Mosul residents, hindering Iraqi forces who are trying to avoid civilian casualties.

A civilian in the southeastern Wahda district, which is still under ISIS control, said helicopters were visible overhead firing at Islamic State targets on the ground.

“One of them targeted a car ISIS was targeting counterterrorism positions in liberated areas,” he said over the phone.

Northern front

On the nothern front, Iraqi forces have yet to enter Mosul itself but on Friday they were clearing just-recaptured areas on its periphery as well as trying to cut off Tel Keyf.

“The enemy had occupied this area and used it for resting and resupplying towards Tel Keyf and Mosul,” Major General Najm al-Jubbouri, a top commander in the offensive told Reuters in the northern district of Sada, which was recaptured on Thursday.

“It (Tel Keyf) is surrounded from the other sides and by our forces here,” he said.