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Mosul fight resumes after two-week lull

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Iraqi army fighters walk around convoy as smoke rise in the background from burning oil fields which was damaged during the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic state fighters (IS) in Qayara town, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, northern Iraq, November 1. Photo by Murat Bay/UPI
Iraqi army fighters walk around convoy as smoke rise in the background from burning oil fields which was damaged during the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic state fighters (IS) in Qayara town, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, northern Iraq, November 1. Photo by Murat Bay/UPI | License Photo

MOSUL, Iraq, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Iraqi security forces on Thursday resumed an offensive to rid eastern Mosul from the Islamic State after a two-week pause, an Iraqi army official said.

Iraqi officials brought in reinforcements to aid the Iraqi army, police and elite counter-terrorism forces during the pause in the offensive. The efforts against the militant Islamist rebel group in Mosul stalled as fierce resistance from the Islamic State caused heavy Iraqi casualties.

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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.

"We are facing a very limited resistance compared to the early days of the operation," Brig. Gen. Walid Khalifa, deputy commander of the 9th Iraqi Army Division, said. "The enemy is collapsing, and it's only a matter of days to control the whole eastern part."

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Iraq's elite counter-terrorism force is focused on capturing Mosul's Karama and Quds neighborhoods. About 1 million people are estimated to still live in Mosul.

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"We are advancing very slowly to preserve the life of the civilians," Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Asadi said.

On Wednesday, Iraqi security forces repelled two Islamic State counter-attacks in which a large number of militants were killed, Brig. Muhammad Wakaa said.

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"We foiled their attack, and we took control of much equipment and explosives belonging to them ... Even though the weather was very bad, we successfully repelled the attack," Wakaa said. "I can't tell how many [were killed] in today's attack, but there certainly was a big number."

In a statement, Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rasheed Jarallah said Iraqi security forces freed the al-Sada and Tawilah villages north of Mosul on Thursday.

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