MOSUL, Iraq, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Iraqi security forces, supported by U.S. artillery, on Tuesday engaged the Islamic State in fierce fighting in Mosul's northeastern Barid neighborhood, army sources said.
Iraqi military sources said U.S. artillery and Apache helicopters bombed areas within the city while Iraqi forces battled Islamic State militants -- some of whom carried out suicide bombings to halt the Iraqi advance into the city's east.
"For hours, we have been in violent battles, backed by an air and artillery cover from the international and U.S. forces," an army officer said. "U.S. Apaches have intervened shortly before to handle some difficult targets."
The army officer said Iraqi forces made "significant progress." The goal of the offensive is to free Barid and to then move toward the adjoining Nisan Seventh and Siddiq neighborhoods. Iraqi officials recently said government forces have taken control of about half of Mosul's east. The Islamic State remains in control of most of the west of the city.
Iraqi security forces, aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, Shiite militias and a U.S.-led international coalition, began a ground offensive on Oct. 17 to capture Mosul away from Islamic State control.
The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service also launched an offensive in Mosul's al-Aalam district.