Iraqi forces have launched a fresh operation to liberate the last remaining districts of the city of Mosul from Daesh terrorists.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the joint operations command, told Reuters the militants "didn't have time to make barriers, the advance since yesterday has been good".
But the big risk is to civilians, with up to half a million thought to be still in the area controlled by so-called Islamic State.
Iraq's federal police were reported to be just a few hundred meters (yards) away from Mosul's al-Nuri mosque located on the southern edge of Mosul's western sections. Now they aim to free western Mosul, where around 2,000 jihadis are said to have entrenched themselves. After all, the last time US troops pulled out of Iraq, they were back just three years later.
Iraqi federal police are now a few hundred meters away from the al-Nuri mosque, the same symbolic location where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a public appearance in 2014. Hard fighting is still anticipated due to the narrow streets surrounding the site, coalition officials said.
"We will enter with Rapid Response forces and CTS and we will enter as one front".
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The Iraqi forces made significant gains over the recent months and now the militants are besieged in the northwestern corner of Mosul which includes the historic Old City centre.
During a visit to Iraq in February, Mattis and Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top USA commander in Iraq, described an enduring partnership between the US and Iraq.
"Everything I am trying to do is try to shape the battlefield for him", Browning, a battalion commander from the 82nd Airborne Division, said referring to Maliki.
"ISIS knows they're going to lose Mosul".
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"And sometimes I say "yes" and he (Maliki) says "don't strike".
Mattis made it clear that United States involvement will not end when Mosul is finally captured from IS.