Iraqi forces battling ISIS hardline militants in southern Mosul reported strong resistance as the second day of a renewed push to take back the city launched. Fighting had been paused for several weeks.
Elite forces pushed into Mosul from the east in October but regular army troops tasked with advancing from the north and south made slower progress and the operation faced a stalemate.
An officer from an elite Interior Ministry unit fighting alongside federal police, said his forces were gaining ground in the Intisar district despite heavy clashes there.
Iraqi forces in the east and north of the city were combing and clearing recaptured areas on Thursday. The army, according to top ranking officers, was trying to cut supply lines to the town of Tel Keyf, north of Mosul.
Since the offensive began 10 weeks ago, U.S.-backed forces have retaken a quarter of ISIS’ last major stronghold in Iraq in the biggest ground operation there since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Recapturing Mosul would end ISIS’ self-styled caliphate, and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the group would be driven out of Iraq by April.
The second phase of the operation will see U.S. troops deployed closer to the front line inside the city.
A civilian in the southeastern Wahda district, which is still under ISIS control, said helicopters were visible overhead firing at ISIS ground targets.