Spokesman: Iraqi forces launch new push in Mosul's west

Over time, US forces employed countermeasures that stopped or slowed their flight, enabling Iraqi ground forces to shoot them out of the sky, he said, noting that the new threat from the air led to dusting off old manuals on how to respond to threats from the air with countermeasures such as camouflage.

Observers have warned that, with other anti-IS forces also pressing a major offensive on their last major Syrian bastion of Raqa, the jihadists could increasingly revert to guerrilla tactics and bombings of civilian targets.

According to a US official, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has personally engaged Iraqi officials over "what the long-term USA presence would look like".

Separately, Captain Ali al-Bahadoli of Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said government forces had lobbed a barrage of missiles at an area west of Mosul, killing scores of Daesh militants.

Smoke is seen as members of the Iraqi Army clash with ISIS fighters at a frontline northwest of Mosul Friday.

The U.S. and Iraq are in talks to keeping American troops in the country after the fight against the Islamic State group is concluded, according to a U.S. official and an official from the Iraqi government. The U.S. had issued the bridging equipment, so soldiers went forward with the Iraqis to help with quality control.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on April 17 that 493,000 people had been displaced from the city, located some 400 kilometers north of Baghdad. In the battle to reclaim Mosul, the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF), the country's best troops, have taken heavy casualties in facing the brunt of the ISIS defense. "They knocked on our door but we did not open it".

Pakistan PM fires advisor over newspaper leak, army rejects actions
Sharif approved an inquiry committee's recommendation to remove his special assistant on foreign affairs Fatemi from his post. PTI chairman rejected the notification by stating that this was a move to save people close to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

He went on to say that he does not "see any reason to pull out again and face the same lesson", adding that the United States "needs to remain decisively engaged in Iraq and in the region".

Iraqi forces were placing a bridge across the river to establish a base on the other side.

Daesh is now besieged in the northwestern corner of Mosul which includes the historic Old City, the medieval Grand al Nuri Mosque, and its landmark leaning minaret where their black flag has been flying since June 2014.

They will join troops who were pushing into the Old City from the south.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" spanning parts of Syria and vast swathes of Iraqi territory from the pulpit of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque almost three years ago.

Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army Osman Ghanimi said the offensive to recapture west Mosul will be complete in about a month, Rudaw reported.

  • Megan Austin