MOSUL, Iraq – The Latest on the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):
New satellite images show that IS militants in Mosul have set up daunting defenses designed to bog down advancing forces.
The images taken Monday and made public by Saturday by Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor, show rows of concrete barricades, earthen berms and rubble blocking key routes leading to the core of the city.
Militants have also cleared terrain and leveled buildings around Mosul airport and a nearby former military base on the west bank of the Tigris. The group likely did so to create a wall to better target Iraqi forces and give them open spaces to fire on advancing troops from further away, according to Stratfor.
The intelligence firm said these defenses "will pose a substantial tactical challenge" to Iraqi forces as they make their way toward central Mosul.
Iraqi special forces are clearing buildings in neighborhoods they entered in eastern Mosul a day earlier, after pushing out Islamic State militants in their drive to take back the city.
Fighting continued Saturday morning, with both sides firing mortars and automatic weapons on each other's positions, while the Iraqi troops also responded with artillery. Clashes were most intense in the al-Bakr neighborhood. Sniper duels played out from rooftops in the mostly residential areas, where the majority of buildings are two stories high.
The special forces launched a two-pronged assault deeper into Mosul's urban center on Friday, unleashing the most intense street battles against IS militants since the offensive to retake the city began nearly three weeks ago. At least seven special forces troops have been killed in the fighting.