Iraqi Forces Push Into Western Mosul

Speaking to AFP and other reporters in Baghdad this week, US Air Force Brigadier General Matt Isler said the IS group had adopted coercive new techniques in its use of suicide auto bombs because the militants appear to be running out of willing drivers.

The F16 airstrikes on the towns of Boukamal and Husseibah and were in response to two attacks, on February 15 and 16, that killed dozens in Baghdad. USA forces have been deployed alongside Iraqi units to serve in an "Advise and Assist" role in the offensive against Islamic State militants in Mosul, in addition to providing air support.

One Iraqi colonel leading the operation tells the BBC that western Mosul "is where the real fighting starts".

A few hundred civilians managed to flee areas on the outer edges of west Mosul over the past two days, but aid groups estimate at least three quarters of a million people remained trapped on the west bank.

Abadi's comments came as Iraqi forces on Friday entered a west Mosul district for the first time since the October launch of their offensive to retake the city from the Islamic State group.

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A floating bridge assembled with USA assistance over the Euphrates River was considered a turning point in the battle that eventually saw Iraqi forces retake the western city of Ramadi from ISIL a year ago.

At Townsend's next stop, a much smaller outpost also south of Mosul, American soldiers described how they try to help Iraqis defend themselves against ISIS's deadliest battlefield weapon: mobile vehicle and truck bombs, which are often carefully hidden and which have been used in their hundreds.

Iraqi Government forces are pushing further into western Mosul, with military police routing ISIL fighters from two neighbourhoods.

Earlier this week, almost 4,000 people killed by IS militants were found buried in the Khasfa sinkhole located near the Baghdad-Mosul highway, not far from Mosul, The Telegraph reported, citing police, activists and local residents.

That is not a view shared by many analysts, however, who believe that the physical layout of the western part of the city - which includes narrow, winding streets - will require in a prolonged, brutal battle to banish IS once and for all.

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According to the spokesman of the Joint Military Operation Command, Brig.

Coalition aircraft and artillery have continued to bombard targets in the west during the break that followed the taking of eastern Mosul. The family made a decision to take their animals with them and had to use duct tape to keep them quiet.

Iraqi government forces last month captured eastern Mosul and have now launched an offensive on the western side.

Iraqi forces stated that units stand less than a kilometer away from Mosul's directorate premise in the western side of the governorate on Saturday.

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