GLOBAL ECONOMY

Iraqi troops face stiff resistance from IS in eastern Mosul

  • In this Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 photo, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand at a crossing point where Iraqis fleeing the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants cross to the Kurdish controlled area, in the Nineveh plain, northeast of Mosul. Cloudy skies neutralized air power in Mosul on Thursday, Iraqi forces said, hampering their advance into the northern city, although they still faced deadly attacks by Islamic State militants that killed seven civilians and two soldiers. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    In this Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 photo, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand at a crossing point where Iraqis fleeing the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants cross to the Kurdish controlled area, in the Nineveh plain, northeast of Mosul. Cloudy skies neutralized air power in Mosul on Thursday, Iraqi forces said, hampering their advance into the northern city, although they still faced deadly attacks by Islamic State militants that killed seven civilians and two soldiers. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)  (The Associated Press)

  • Tombs damaged during the Islamic State occupation sit in the Saint George church in Bashiqa, east of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. In heavily damaged Bashiqa, Christians rang the bells of Saint George's church for the first time to celebrate its liberation from Islamic State, which was driven from the city earlier this month. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    Tombs damaged during the Islamic State occupation sit in the Saint George church in Bashiqa, east of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. In heavily damaged Bashiqa, Christians rang the bells of Saint George's church for the first time to celebrate its liberation from Islamic State, which was driven from the city earlier this month. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

  • A woman wipes her tears during a ceremony in the Saint George church in Bashiqa, east of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. In heavily damaged Bashiqa, Christians rang the bells of Saint George's church for the first time to celebrate its liberation from Islamic State, which was driven from the city earlier this month. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    A woman wipes her tears during a ceremony in the Saint George church in Bashiqa, east of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. In heavily damaged Bashiqa, Christians rang the bells of Saint George's church for the first time to celebrate its liberation from Islamic State, which was driven from the city earlier this month. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

A senior military commander says Iraqi troops are facing stiff resistance from Islamic State militants as they push deeper into eastern Mosul.

Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of the Iraqi special forces says his troops moved early Saturday morning into the Muharabeen and Ulama neighborhoods after fully liberating the adjacent Tahrir neighborhood on Friday.

Al-Aridi said IS militants are fighting back with snipers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds. Thick black columns of smoke were seen billowing from the two areas.

The offensive to retake IS-held Mosul, which was launched on Oct. 17, is the biggest military operation in Iraq since American troops left in 2011. If successful, the retaking of Mosul would be the strongest blow dealt to IS' self-styled caliphate stretching into Syria.