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Iraqi troops close to driving Islamic State out of Mosul

By Qassim Abdul-Zahra

Iraqi special forces are poised to enter Mosul in a bid to drive out Islamic State (IS) militants after fending off suicide car bombings as they swept into the last village on the city's eastern edge.

Armoured vehicles, including Abrams tanks, drew fire from mortars and small arms as they moved on the village of Bazwaya in an assault that began at dawn yesterday, while artillery and air strikes hit IS positions.

By evening, the fighting had stopped and units took up positions less than a mile from Mosul's eastern border and about five miles from the centre, two weeks into the offensive to retake Iraq's second largest city.

Brig Gen Haider Fadhil of Iraq's special forces said: "We will enter the city of Mosul soon and liberate it."

He added that more than 20 militants had been killed while his forces suffered only one light injury from a fall.

Three suicide car bombers had tried to stop the advance before the army took control of Bazwaya, but the troops destroyed them, he said.

The army said another unit, its 9th Division, had moved towards Mosul and was about three miles from its eastern outskirts, the area of Gogjali.

Plumes of smoke rose from IS positions hit by artillery and air strikes from the US-led coalition.

State TV described the operation to liberate the city as a "battle of honour", which was captured by IS from a superior yet neglected Iraqi force in 2014.

Belfast Telegraph


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