Iraqi Kurdish fighters are exchanging heavy fighters with militants as they advance from two directions on a town held by the Islamic State group east of the city of Mosul.

The town of Bashiqa has been surrounded by Kurdish forces known as peshmerga for weeks. Monday's push appears to be the most serious yet to drive IS from the area, which is about 13 kilometers (8 miles) northeast of Mosul.

Kurdish forces launched mortar rounds and fired heavy artillery into the town on Sunday in advance of the offensive.

As the Kurdish forces advance, more artillery and air strikes are hitting the town.

The three-week-long Mosul offensive has slowed down in recent days as Iraqi forces have pushed into more densely populated areas of the city.