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IS launches overnight attack against Iraqi troops in Mosul

Islamic State militants launched an overnight attack against Iraqi security forces in the south-eastern part of Mosul, a day after the troops advanced deeper into the city.

The attack "inflicted heavy losses", Iraqi Army Sergeant Major Hakim Saranbii told the Associated Press without giving specific casualty figures or further details. Iraqi Defence Ministry officials in Baghdad were not available for comment.

The setback came after Iraq's army rolled into the south-eastern neighbourhood of al-Salam on Tuesday, taking a hospital before meeting stiff resistance from IS militants. Convoys of dozens of armoured Iraqi special forces and army Humvees could be seen moving into the area on Wednesday morning.

"What we see here is the enemy reacting to a new axis of advance," said coalition spokesman US Army Colonel John Dorrian, adding that the new push was putting increased pressure on IS.

After the advance on Tuesday, Iraqi forces said they pushed the front line back more than 1.2 miles (2km) and retook Mosul's al-Salam hospital, but only a few hundred yards appeared to be secured and clashes continued into the evening.

When Iraqi forces initially launched a push into eastern Mosul in early November, troops came under heavy counter-attacks after advancing too far too quickly. Islamic State militants depend on suicide car bombs and sniper fire to derail the security forces, as well as a network of underground tunnels.

The Iraqi government has not publicised the casualty figures for government troops and paramilitary forces fighting in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq. Last week, the UN said in a report that nearly 2,000 members of the Iraqi forces were killed last month, but after coming under fire from the media arm of the Iraqi military, it announced it would discontinue publishing casualty figures for Iraq's security forces.

Backed by the US-led international coalition, Iraqi government troops and paramilitary forces launched a campaign in October to dislodge IS from Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and IS's last major urban bastion in the country.

AP

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