BAGHDAD – MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):
The Kurdish commander responsible for military operations at the formerly IS-held town of Bashiqa says his forces are still working to secure the northern Iraqi town.
Gen. Hamid Effendi told The Associated Press on Friday that large numbers of booby-trapped explosives remain in the town. He estimates the unexploded bombs could number more than a thousand.
He says most of the more than 100 IS fighters have been killed in combat, but that injured fighters likely remain in defensive tunnels built by the militants.
Effendi says he hopes the town will be fully secured by Saturday, but it will take longer to clear all the unexploded bombs. For that reason, civilians will not be allowed into the town in large numbers for at least a week.
Iraqi troops inched have ahead in their battle to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group on Friday, as the U.N. revealed fresh evidence that the extremists have used chemical weapons.
Exchanging small arms and mortar fire with IS positons, the special forces entered the Qadisiya neighborhood, advancing slowly to avoid killing civilians and trying to avoid being surprised by suicide car bombers, said Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil.
Regular army troops control 90 percent of the Intisar neighborhood, said one officer, but progress had slowed because "the streets are too narrow for our tanks." He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.
Iraqi troops are converging from several fronts on Mosul, the second-largest city and the last major IS holdout in Iraq. Kurdish peshmerga forces are holding a line north of the city, while Iraqi army and militarized police units approach from the south, and government-sanctioned Shiite militias guard western approaches.