Iraqi troops have broken through Islamic State defenses in an eastern suburb of Mosul, taking the battle for the insurgents’ stronghold into the city limits for the first time.
The fighting came after two weeks of advances by US-backed Iraqi forces who cleared surrounding areas of insurgents, in the early stages of the largest military operation in Iraq since the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Commanders have said the battle for the city, the hardline militants’ last big bastion in Iraq, could take months, Reuters reports.
Troops of the Iraqi army’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) moved forward on Gogjali, an industrial zone on the eastern outskirts.
The commander of CTS forces east of the city, Lieutenant-General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, told state television his forces had reached the edge of the Karama district inside the city.
A Reuters correspondent in the village of Bazwaia saw plumes of smoke rising from a built-up area a few kilometers away which a commander said was the result of clashes already under way inside Karama.
A Kurdish peshmerga intelligence source said he received a report saying seven Islamic State militants were killed in the Aden district, adjacent to Karama, and two of their vehicles destroyed.
Iraqi state television said there were also clashes inside the city between Islamic State fighters and residents rising up against the group.
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