Iraqi forces inside west Mosul proper after taking military base

All 14 battalions of Baghdad's elite US -trained counterterrorism service, the CTS, are pushing in from the west, close to the Iraqi Army's 9th Division which is moving with heavy armor.

"ISIS is a brutal, brutal enemy", said Townsend, speaking in Erbil as Iraq's security forces were about to attack Mosul's airport with help from the US -led anti-ISIS coalition.

In Mosul, the army plans to use the newly recaptured airport as a base for its push to drive ISIL from the city's western districts.

"This will be a terrifying moment for the 750,000 people still in the west of the city, and there is a real danger that the battle will be raging around them for weeks and possibly months to come", said Jason Kajer, the Iraq acting country director for the humanitarian group.

The US Defense Department says that 31 US troops have been wounded in Iraq and Syria since the anti-ISIS operation was authorized in the summer of 2014, though the casualty list is unlikely to be completely up to date.

"Around 450 members of the USA -led coalition are advising the Iraqi troops". Out here, in wild, open countryside, it is clear Iraqis and Americans are working closely. That fight, while ultimately successful, was costly.

It took a day of intense fighting by elite Iraqi units to secure most of the airport, Brig.

On Friday, the jihadists carried out an attack in Anbar on an Iraqi border guard position near Jordan, killing at least 15 guards, officials said.

However, the toughest fighting lay ahead, once the government troops begin to make their way through the tight, winding streets in what is expected to be weeks of house-to-house combat.

An official in Rutba, the nearest town, confirmed the attack and the death toll.

The cautious advance stood in sharp contrast to the first days of Iraq's push into Mosul from the east, when Iraqi forces quickly advanced deep into the city's congested neighborhoods, where they were hit with heavy IS counterattacks, including dozens of vehicle bombs that struck the slow-moving Iraqi convoys with deadly consequences. The force has been in the lead in the grinding, months-long fights for Fallujah, Ramadi and Baiji, and has had little rest between the urban battles.

Joseph Dunford said that both the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have begun discussions with Iraq about the possibility.

Counter-terrorism forces clashed with Islamic State inside the southwestern district of al-Mamoun and took full control of the Ghozlani military base on Friday, Major General Sami al-Aridi, a senior commander, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces continue defensive holding operations in eastern Mosul, he said, and the coalition continues to hit ISIS targets around Mosul. They have also offered the militants a chance to surrender.

Iraqi authorities declared Mosul's eastern half "fully liberated" in January and afterward largely paused operations to prepare for the fight for the city's west.

As Iraqi special forces and rapid response units stormed Mosul's airport and the sprawling Ghazlani base on the southern edge of the city's west, coalition forces were embedded with forward units advising them on their plan of attack, according to two Iraqi officers overseeing the operation.

  • Leroy Wright