Iraqi forces push on against IS in eastern Mosul

The security forces have been fighting to push deeper into the eastern side of the city, locally known as left bank of the Tigris River, but met resistance of the militants, who are fighting in small groups of well-trained fighters with snipers, suicide bomb attacks and many landmines, in addition to the heavy presence of civilians in their homes in Mosul districts.

Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of the special forces tells The Associated Press that his men foiled two attempted suicide auto bombings early Monday, firing on the approaching vehicles, which exploded before reaching their intended targets.

An Iraqi special forces soldier, foreground, asks Iraqi men to take off their jackets to check that they aren't wearing an explosive belt, as they arrive to receive food supplies, at al-Arbajiyeh neighborhood, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday.

Iraqi armed forces began their offensive on Mosul on October 17, with air and ground support from a US -led coalition.

Ms. Iraqi is among more than 50,000 civilians who have fled the city of over 1 million people in the weeks since Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched an offensive last month to retake the city.

Popular Mobilization Units fighters ride on the back of a truck on their way to fight against Islamic State militants in the airport of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016.

"The biggest hindrance to us is the civilians", Major General Sami al-Aridi told AP.

Late on Friday, a group of IS militants attacked the village of Imam Gharbi south of Mosul, controlling most of it for hours before airstrikes from the USA -led global coalition were called in, an officer said. Winning the peace will require nimble negotiation efforts by US and global diplomats and, quite possibly, an American military presence for years to come. Accusing unnamed parties of seeking to raise the specter of sectarian strife, he said: "Our strength lies in our diversity. we have a tough task ahead of us to rebuild what Daesh destroyed".

The Shiite militias are leading an assault to drive IS from Tal Afar, which had a majority Shiite population before it fell to the militants in the summer of 2014, and to cut IS supply lines linking Mosul to Syria. The two officers insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Human Rights Watch said in a report Sunday that Sunni militiamen fighting alongside the Iraqi military detained and beat 22 men from villages near Mosul and recruited 10 children from displaced camps in the area to join the fight against IS.

"The U.S. should press the Iraqi government to ensure that the troops they are supporting don't have fighters under 18 in their ranks", said Lama Fakih, HRW's deputy Middle East director. The attacks have mostly been blamed on IS, its forerunner al-Qaida or extremist Shiite groups.

The hardline Sunni group claimed an attack on a Sunni wedding west of Baghdad that killed at least 12 people on Thursday.

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