BAGHDAD – Iraqi special forces advanced on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul from the east on Monday, taking heavy fire but seizing the last IS-held village before the city's eastern outskirts and clearing a path that was followed by army units.
Here is a look at the main developments on the 15th day of the Mosul Offensive:
SWEEP INTO BAZWAYA
Armored vehicles, including Abrams tanks, drew mortar and small arms fire as they moved on the village of Bazwaya in the dawn assault, while allied artillery and airstrikes hit IS positions. By evening the fighting had stopped and the units took up positions less than a mile from Mosul's eastern border and some five miles from the city center.
Three suicide car bombers tried to stop the advance during the day before the army took control of the town, but the troops destroyed them, said Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil. The army said another unit, its ninth division, had moved up toward Mosul and was now approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) from its eastern outskirts, the outer suburban neighborhood of Gogjali.
At one point, a Humvee packed with explosives raced ahead in an attempt to ram the forces, but Iraqi troops opened fire on it, setting off the charge and blowing up the vehicle. Plumes of smoke rose in the air from IS positions hit by artillery, and airstrikes the army said came from its U.S. allies.
AFTERMATH IN THE VILLAGE
Some residents hung white flags on buildings and from windows in a sign that they would not resist the government troops, said Maj. Salam al-Obeidi, a member of the special forces operation in Bazwaya. He said troops were requesting that villagers stay inside their homes as Iraqi forces made their way through the streets, as a precaution against potential suicide bombers.
As night fell, broken glass in the streets glistened from the light of some burning houses, with several buildings suffering from collapsed roofs from the airstrikes. The army estimates hundreds of families live in the village, but few ventured out on the streets.
PRIME MINISTER URGES IS FORCES TO SURRENDER
In the evening Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appeared on state television, wearing combat fatigues while visiting troops in the town of Shura, south of Mosul. He urged Islamic State group fighters in Mosul to surrender.
"We will close in on Daesh from all angles and God willing, we will cut off the snake's head," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group. "They will have no way out, and no way to escape," he said, urging the fighters to give up as the Iraqi military stands poised to enter the city. "Either they die, or surrender."