The Latest on the developments in Iraq as government forces and their allies press ahead in the battle for IS-held city of Mosul (all times local):
Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati, told reporters at a military base on Tuesday that up to 6,000 IS fighters are still inside the city. He did not say how many of them are foreigners.
IS captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, when it swept across much of northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014. The group has suffered a string of defeats over the past year, and Mosul is its last major urban bastion in Iraq.
The push to retake Mosul is the biggest military operation in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011.
Iraqi and Kurdish authorities are setting up a refugee camp with some 5,000 tents east of Mosul as they brace for an influx of people fleeing a massive offensive to retake the Islamic State-held city.
Project manager Prezzo Mikael said on Wednesday that the camp is nearly complete, with running water, electricity and food.
The massive operation launched on Monday is expected to take weeks or months. Mosul, which fell to IS in 2014, is still home to more than a million people. The camp is prepared to receive 5,000 families.
Iraqi authorities have called on people to remain in their homes, but are also preparing humanitarian corridors for them to escape the fighting.
Islamic State militants have deployed suicide car bombs and fired mortar rounds to slow down the advance of Iraqi troops outside a key town near the militant-held city of Mosul.
An officer with the Iraqi army’s 9th Division told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his troops are around 1 kilometer (half mile) away from Hamdaniyah, a historically Christian town also known as Bakhdida.
He says IS has sent 12 car bombs since Tuesday, all of which were blown up before reaching their targets. He says troops suffered a small number of casualties from the mortar rounds, without providing figures.
The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to reporters.
Iraq launched a massive operation on Monday to retake Mosul, the country’s second largest city.
—Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Khazer, Iraq.
Source : ABC News: International