Iraqi troops advance in eastern Mosul amid fierce clashes with IS militants
Iraqi special forces troops have begun battling Islamic State militants in two eastern Mosul neighbourhoods, according to media reports and field commanders.
The fighting took place as they continued their push towards the Tigris River, which divides the city.
A military commander said that two special forces units began moving into the Shurta and Andalus neighbourhoods early on Monday and were advancing slowly amid IS resistance.
"The pace is medium, we're moving slowly because the forces are worried about bombs," said Maj Gen Sami al-Aridi.
IS fighters targeted the advancing Iraqi forces with five car bombs on Monday morning, but unlike during the first weeks of the Mosul operation, the cars were not armoured and could be disabled with artillery.
Since early morning, Iraqiya TV has aired a live feed from the front lines, showing thick grey smoke rising and Humvees passing by burnt-out buildings amid explosions and gunfire.
Maj Gen Al-Aridi said his forces expected to reach the last remaining bridges that span the Tigris within days.
As the Mosul operation enters its fourth month, Iraqi forces say they control nearly all of the city's eastern half, but another wave of intense IS resistance likely awaits them in Mosul's west.