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The Latest: Iraqi army launches new push on town near Mosul

  • Iraq's elite counterterrorism force soldiers raise an Iraqi flag in front of the main church in Bartella, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. By Thursday, the Iraqi forces had advanced as far as Bartella, a historically Christian town some nine miles (15 kilometers) from Mosul's outskirts. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    Iraq's elite counterterrorism force soldiers raise an Iraqi flag in front of the main church in Bartella, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. By Thursday, the Iraqi forces had advanced as far as Bartella, a historically Christian town some nine miles (15 kilometers) from Mosul's outskirts. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati of Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces, center, announces the liberation of Bartella in front of the main church, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016.  By Thursday, the Iraqi forces had advanced as far as Bartella, a historically Christian town some nine miles (15 kilometers) from Mosul's outskirts. "Bartella was liberated yesterday, and today we are inside its church," Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati declared. "I bring the good news to our Christian brothers that the church is liberated." (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati of Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces, center, announces the liberation of Bartella in front of the main church, Iraq, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. By Thursday, the Iraqi forces had advanced as far as Bartella, a historically Christian town some nine miles (15 kilometers) from Mosul's outskirts. "Bartella was liberated yesterday, and today we are inside its church," Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati declared. "I bring the good news to our Christian brothers that the church is liberated." (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest on developments in Iraq where Iraqi forces and their allies launched a major offensive this week to retake Mosul, the country's second-largest city from the Islamic State group (all times local):

9:31 a.m.

The Iraqi army's 9th Division has launched a new push to retake a town near Mosul from the Islamic State group.

The Joint Military Operation Command said Saturday that troops were advancing on Hamdaniyah, also known as Bakhdida and Qaraqosh, to the southeast of Mosul. The operation is part of a massive offensive launched Monday aimed at liberating Iraq's second largest city, which fell to IS in 2014.

Hamdaniyah is believed to be largely uninhabited. IS has heavily mined the approaches to Mosul, and Iraqi forces have had to contend with roadside bombs, snipers and suicide truck bombs as they have moved closer to the city.

Iraqi forces are now around 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Mosul. The operation to retake the city is expected to take weeks, if not months.

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9:12 a.m.

Iraqi police say a massive Islamic State assault on targets in and around the northern city of Kirkuk has come to an end after a day and night of heavy clashes.

Brig. Gen. Khattab Omer said Saturday that all the attackers were killed or blew themselves up. The area around the provincial headquarters, where the fighting was heaviest, was quiet Saturday morning.

It was not clear how many militants took part in the assault, which appeared to be aimed at diverting attention from the IS-held city of Mosul, around 170 kilometers (100 miles) away, where Iraqi forces are waging a major offensive.

The militants killed 13 workers, including four Iranians, at a power plant north of Kirkuk, and a local television reporter was killed by a sniper in the city.