Mosul: Most intense day of fighting since offensive began

Mosul: Most intense day of fighting since offensive began

As it is, few would have predicted last spring that the Mosul operation could happen at all this year, as Iraq's humiliated and largely shattered army was still deeply demoralized and fragmented.

At Qayara air base, near al-Hud, a senior Iraqi general called on Islamic State group fighters in Mosul to surrender.

Lt. Col. Muntadhar al-Shimmari told The Associated Press on Thursday that one bomb hit a Humvee and that eight others were detonated by troops before they could reach their targets. Gen. Gary Volesky said in a video briefing from Baghdad, referring to ISIS by its Arabic acronym.

The battle to liberate Mosul has entered its third day as it was revealed ISIS were using citizens as human shields in an attempt to retain stronghold.

“They spent their lives in these tunnels, ” said Tahseen Muhammed Sharif, a 35-year-old Kurdish fighter who said the Kurdish forces who drove the militants out of the village also found ammunition inside the tunnel network, which they seized.

Tikrit, Ramadi, Fallujah - one important city after another fell to Iraqi offences heavily backed up by air and artillery support in what became the slow and grisly proving grounds for the Mosul showdown. He said it was not yet clear whether US forces would be permitted to enter the city proper.

Up to 1.5 million people are thought to be in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, with up to 5,000 fighters.

But questions about the extent of USA activities in the unfolding ground operation also serve to highlight the elasticity of the American advisory role, which has been employed in a host of counterterrorism conflicts since 2001, such as joint planning at heavily guarded headquarters and combat situations where US troops fight alongside or even ahead of local forces.

Approximately 2,500 European Union nationals are known to be fighting alongside Islamic State in the Mosul area.

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An officer in Iraq's special forces says Islamic State militants deployed nine suicide auto bombs as troops advanced to the town of Bartella outside the IS-held northern city of Mosul.

The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk to reporters.

The charity Save the Children said on October 19 that 5,000 people had crossed the border into Syria in the last 10 days and arrived at the Al-Hol camp.

Islamic State militants have unleashed at least four suicide vehicle bombs against Iraqi special forces as they advanced on the militant-held town of Bartella east of Mosul.

The Iraqi government has denied any systematic violations by security forces or the militias, and says individuals have been held accountable for occasional abuses.

Maliki said his division was around three to four miles (five to six kilometers) from the city's outskirts.

Authorities have said they expect the battle to take weeks or even months.

The PMF officially reports to the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who announced on Monday the start of the offensive on Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.