Iraqi forces faced car bombs and fierce resistance from Islamic State militants in southern Mosul on Friday, the second day of a renewed push to take back the city after fighting stalled for several weeks.
An officer in the federal police forces, which joined the battle on Thursday, said there were heavy clashes in the southeastern Palestine district, but they had made progress in two other neighborhoods, disabling a number of car bombs, reports Reuters.
Another officer, from an elite Interior Ministry unit fighting alongside federal police, said his forces were gaining ground in the Intisar district despite heavy clashes there.
Since the offensive began 10 weeks ago, U.S.-backed forces have retaken a quarter of the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq in the biggest ground operation there since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Recapturing Mosul would probably spell the end for Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the group would be driven out of Iraq by April.
Elite forces pushed into Mosul from the east in October but regular army troops tasked with advancing from the north and south made slower progress and the operation stagnated.
After regrouping this month, they renewed the offensive on Thursday, advancing from the south, east and north of the city, which has been under militant control for more than two years.r