Mosul battle: Iraqi troops ‘a
Iraqi forces are “ahead of schedule”, the Pentagon has said, as they begin the second day of the battle to retake Mosul from socalled Islamic State.
But spokesman Peter Cook warned that the campaign “could take some time” as it remained to be seen whether the jihadist group would “stand and fight”.
Fighting continued overnight, with IS militants attacking Iraqi army tanks.
The southern frontline is still some 40km from the city.
IS militants overran Mosul in June 2014, before taking control of much of northern and western Iraq.
Their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, chose a mosque in the city as the place to proclaim the establishment of a “caliphate”, so retaking the city would be “symbolic”, according to Mr Cook.
A coalition of about 30,000 Iraqi security personnel, Kurdish fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen, and Shia paramilitary forces began their advance on the jihadists’ last major urban stronghold in the country on Monday.
The Kurds seized several villages in the first few hours of the operation, and announced on Monday evening they had achieved all their key objectives, including recapturing 200 sq km and nine villages in under 24 hours.
They also secured an additional significant stretch of the road from the Kurdish city of Irbil to Mosul.
Mr Cook told reporters in Washington: “Early indications are that Iraqi forces have met their objectives so far, and that they are ahead of schedule for this first day.
“This is going according to the Iraqi plan - but again, it’s early, and the enemy gets a vote here. We will see whether [IS] stands and fights.”
They recaptured 10 villages on
French army Rafale fighter jets taking off from the deck of France's aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, in the Mediterranean sea. Seven French Rafale jets, from the Air Force and the Navy, carried out airstrikes south of Mosul overnight Oct. 15-16 with SCALP missiles that destroyed a factory making IEDs Photograph: AP