Middle East

Iraqi forces facing stiff resistance in western Mosul

  • Displaced Iraqis flee their homes due to fighting between Iraqi special forces and Islamic State militants, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 25. 2017. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    Displaced Iraqis flee their homes due to fighting between Iraqi special forces and Islamic State militants, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 25. 2017. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iraqi special forces arrest a fighter with Islamic State militia in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 25. 2017. An Iraqi commander says special forces troops are progressing through western Mosul and encountering stiff resistance from entrenched Islamic State fighters. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    Iraqi special forces arrest a fighter with Islamic State militia in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 25. 2017. An Iraqi commander says special forces troops are progressing through western Mosul and encountering stiff resistance from entrenched Islamic State fighters. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Displaced Iraqis flee their homes due to fighting between Iraqi special forces and Islamic State militants, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 25. 2017. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

    Displaced Iraqis flee their homes due to fighting between Iraqi special forces and Islamic State militants, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 25. 2017. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

An Iraqi commander says special forces troops are progressing through western Mosul and encountering stiff resistance from entrenched Islamic State fighters.

Special forces Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said Saturday that his troops are "moving very slowly" and that IS fighters are responding with car bombs, snipers and dozens of armed drones.

The drones have caused relatively few deaths, but have inflicted dozens of light injuries that have disrupted the pace of ground operations.

Al-Saadi says he expects the pace to increase after Iraqi forces retake territory and infrastructure on Mosul's southwestern edge — which will allow them to shorten supply lines and link up with forces in the city's east.

Iraqi forces declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated" in January after officially launching the operation to retake the city in October.