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Heavy fighting breaks out as IS attacks Iraqi forces in Mosul

Published 12/11/2016

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter inspects the interior of a house destroyed by fighting with Islamic State militants in Bashiqa, east of Mosul (AP)
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter inspects the interior of a house destroyed by fighting with Islamic State militants in Bashiqa, east of Mosul (AP)

Heavy fighting is taking place inside the northern city of Mosul as Iraqi special forces battle Islamic State (IS) fighters.

Iraqi officers said a suicide bomb attack took place early on Saturday in the Qadisiya area - which the troops had entered a day earlier - and was followed by a barrage of gunfire, mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades.

Fighting is also under way in the nearby Arbajiya neighbourhood.

The Iraqi armed forces do not release casualty figures, but field medics have noted dozens of killed and wounded troops since the operation to liberate Iraq's second largest city began on October 17.

Special forces entered Mosul earlier this month, gaining a foothold on the city's eastern edges. But the advance has slowed as they push into more densely populated areas.

The urban landscape inside Mosul proper makes defence easier for the militants, eager to hold on to the last major Iraqi stronghold of their self-styled caliphate.

Defeat in Mosul would be a major blow to their project, and they have said they are ready to fight to the death.

To the south of the city, militarised Iraqi police have come within three miles of Mosul's airport, which satellite images show has been heavily fortified.

The images, taken earlier this month by US-based private intelligence firm Stratfor, show IS fighters have cleared terrain and levelled buildings around the airport and a nearby former military base on the west bank of the Tigris river.

Rows of concrete barricades, earthen mounds and rubble are blocking other key routes into the city centre.

AP

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