Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Iraqi security forces have captured the town of Tel Kaif, on the northern outskirts of Mosul, after launching an attack Thursday morning against the Islamic State.
The Islamic State put up a weak resistance to the Iraqi army offensive but there were heavy clashes in the Qasabiyah district, also known as Old Tal Kayf, Rudaw reported. Residents said they remained in their homes for more than two days anticipating the offensive.
Tel Kaif, 6 miles north of Mosul, was under siege for more than two months. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi's spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, on Wednesday said Iraqi security forces and allies have captured up to 70 percent of Nineveh province, in which Mosul is located, since the offensive began.
The Iraqi Ministry of Defense on Thursday said at least 20 Islamic State members were killed and three machine guns were destroyed in north Mosul, adding that Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service forces fully liberated the northern portion of east Mosul -- meaning that half of the city is fully under Iraqi control.
The second phase of the battle to retake Mosul -- which is led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State -- began Dec. 29 after the initial offensive, which began Oct. 17, was suspended.