Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism forces  advance towards the city of Mosul.
Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism forces advance towards the city of Mosul. Khalid Mohammed

Push to liberate Mosul going faster than planned

THE offensive to free Mosul from Islamic State is going faster than planned, Iraq's Prime Minister says.

IS militants are using suicide car bombs, roadside bombs and snipers to resist the attack.

Kurdish forces have began a major new push from the north. Howitzer and mortar fire started at dawn on Thursday, hitting villages held by IS about 10 to 20km from Mosul, as while helicopters flew overhead.

After a dawn attack the Kurds pushed on to the Nineveh Plains in a bid to reclaim a series of vital villages and seal the northern frontier.

As the attack continued, Reuters reported an American soldier had been killed in northern Iraq by an improvised explosive device.

The casualty came days after the Pentagon this week played down any new role for US forces in Iraq's battle to retake Mosul.

Roughly 5000 US forces are in Iraq, and more than 100 of them are embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces involved with the Mosul offensive.

About 1.5 million residents are believed to still be inside the city.



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