Iraqi forces begin assault on Mosul district with artillery

Iraqi forces make its first push into Mosul

Iraqi forces begin assault on Mosul district with artillery

Gen. Sami al-Aridi said.

Iraqi Special Forces stood poised to enter Mosul in an offensive to drive out fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group after sweeping into the last village on the city's eastern edge on Monday.

Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for the US -led coalition, said that aerial observations of the battlefield showed that IS forces can no longer move in large numbers.

Counter Terrorism forces were under attack as they advanced toward the Christian town of Bartella.

Explosions could be heard further east.

Iraqi security forces are closing in on the city of Mosul. Here is what you need to know about the ancient Iraqi city. "It's good news for the people of Mosul because we have now really started the city's liberation", Shagati added.

Armored vehicles drew fire from mortars and small arms as they moved on the village of Bazwaya in an assault that began at dawn, while artillery and air strikes hit ISIL, or ISIS, positions.

He said their troops managed to detonate it and it exploded without causing casualties. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the Iraqi special forces. He said he had just returned from inside Gogjali where he was collecting civilians for security screening.

"They're fleeing, the jihadists are fleeing into Mosul", Obeidi said.

Mosul, a city of more than 1 million people, is the heart of the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate.

Two officers reached by cellphone said that the fighting had been fierce but that they were confident the neighborhood, known for its cattle farming, would be secured soon.

A coalition of around 100,000 Iraqi-led forces, including Kurdish troops and irregular Shia militia, have been fighting in an intense push toward Mosul since October 17 to end more than two years of the militant group's brutal rule.

The Hashed said on Monday that they had retaken a series of villages during their advance and surrounded others.

CNN correspondents near Gogjali said earlier Tuesday that they could see smoke rising on Mosul's perimeter from oil trenches being set on fire to obscure warplanes from striking ISIS targets and deter troops from entering.

Abadi called on civilians to try to expel the militants and prevent them from putting booby traps in neighborhoods.

Still, commanders appeared buoyed by their progress on Monday.

"We will close in on (IS) from every place", he said.

The announcement came three days after the UN's high commissioner for human rights, Zei Ra'ad Al Hussein, said IS militants had abducted more than 7,000 families to use as human shields against the Iraqi government offensive on Mosul. The operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.

How fiercely the militants decide to fight may depend on whether they are penned into the city.

Paramilitary forces from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation), an umbrella organisation dominated by the Iran-backed Shiite militia, have been advancing north in a bid to cut it but they still have some way to go. The advance was the start of what is likely to be a grueling and slow operation for the forces as they fend off booby traps and ambushes in hard, house-to-house fighting expected to take weeks, if not months.

"We are going to Mosul to free them from ISIS", Haider al-Abadi told a reporter for state-run Iraqiya TV at the Qayyara airbase south of the city.

The city became part of Iraq when the country was created out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s.

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