Iraqi special forces are advancing on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul from the east under heavy fire, inching closer to the city's limits.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil says car bombers are trying to stop the advance, but that his troops aim to enter Mosul's eastern outskirts today and that they're just 3 kilometers (2 miles) from that position now.

The Monday dawn assault saw armored vehicles, including Abrams tanks, move on the suburb of Bazwaya as allied artillery and airstrikes hit IS positions, drawing mortar and small arms fire.

For two weeks, Iraqi forces and their Kurdish allies, Sunni tribesmen and Shiite militias have been converging on Mosul from all directions to drive IS from Iraq's second largest city.

The operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.