MOSUL, Iraq Jan 8 Iraqi special forces, backed
by U.S.-led air raids, clashed with Islamic State militants near
a historic site in Mosul on Sunday, an officer in Iraq's
counter-terrorism service said, as they tried to drive the
jihadists out of more districts in the city.
The elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) has spearheaded
advances into eastern Mosul in the nearly 12-week U.S.-backed
offensive to recapture the city, which is Islamic State's last
major stronghold in Iraq.
"This morning CTS troops advanced in two directions towards
the Baladiyat and Sukkar districts," Lt.General Abdelwahab
"During the advance, Daesh (Islamic State) tried to confront
us from the historic hill," he said, apparently referring to a
hill located near the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of
Nineveh, east of the Tigris river and inside Mosul.
Saadi said Iraqi forces and warplanes from the U.S.-led
coalition "dealt with" IS fighters who had gone up the hill to
use it as a firing position. Dozens of the militants were
killed, he added.
Iraqi forces, including the CTS and army units, have
advanced further into Mosul in recent days, helped by new
tactics and better coordination to gain fresh momentum after
getting bogged down inside the city towards the end of the year.
(Reporting by Stephen Kalin,; Writing by John Davison,; Editing
by Stephen Powell)