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ISIS commanders flee Mosul with their wives

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The offensive to seize back Mosul is going faster than planned, Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday.

In the third day of the offensive, the troops fought sporadic clashes with IS militants in several areas in northeast and east of Mosul, while the Peshmerga forces shelled IS positions with artillery and mortar rounds near the towns of Bashiqa and Butilla in northeast of Mosul, a security source from the Operations Command of Nineveh Liberation told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Kurdish President Masoud Barzani has declared that "Mosul will be liberated", adding that his fighters are doing their best to keep the city from becoming like war-battered Aleppo in Syria.

Asked about the ICRC's dialogue with Shi'ite militia on the rules of war, Hamilton said: "As with the Iraqi state forces, Kurdish forces as well, we have been obviously trying to promote a sense for and an understanding of their responsibilities with regards to respecting worldwide humanitarian law". "Our assessment is that they'll be the people who want to stay and fight. because they really don't have any other place to go", he said.

Leaders and militants of the Islamic State group are fleeing Mosul as US -led coalition forces are intensifying their offensive to retake the group's last major stronghold in Iraq.

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.

Gen Volesky declined to directly answer a question about whether a gap was being intentionally left open, although he suggested CJTF-OIR would attempt to target militants withdrawing along this route. The incident was the fourth U.S. combat fatality in Iraq since operations against IS began there and in Syria in 2014. The U.S. -trained force is expected to lead the way into the city in the coming days or weeks.

About 1.5 million residents are still believed to be inside the city, and Islamic State has a history of using civilians as human shields.

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'The presence of the sniper in four neighbourhoods emphasizes that there are many snipers and not only one'. Some Kurdish commanders said they had done so to allow Iraqi forces, who are earmarked to enter the city, to move forward. Pockets of IS militants have been mounting lightning attacks. Iraqi troops are also fearful of improvised bombs, which have been planted in the main thoroughfares. Others said they were in the process of re-ordering their own units.

Speculation about the whereabouts of Baghdadi is also rife, with former Iraqi foreign ministry Hoshiyar Zebari saying he was still in Mosul.

Soon after the peshmerga offensive began early Monday with Kurdish troops moving over dirt mounds marking the frontline between them and IS fighters on the eastern or Khazir front, IS offered stiff resistance, trying to strike back with mortar fire and auto bombs.

There have been several reports of IS suicide bombers driving cars packed with explosives at their foes.

US Lt Gen Stephen Townsend was speaking on the sidelines of the battle to retake the Iraqi city from the jihadist group.

Tens of thousands of soldiers are participating in the operation, which is receiving USA air support.

The militants have put up fierce resistance in villages surrounding the city, where most of the fighting has been concentrated.

The special forces advanced in some 150 Humvees decked with Iraqi flags and Shiite religious banners.

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