Iraqi security forces launched the second phase of their offensive against ISIS in the key city of Mosul on Thursday, advancing into the city with U.S. forces embedded closer to the front line than in the past.
While Iraqi counter-terrorism and army units pushed forward from the north and east toward the Tigris River that divides the city, several thousand federal police advanced to the southeast, commanders said.
“The prime minister gave us orders to reach the river in a short time. Now the second step, this morning, begins,” said Maj. Gen. Najim Jabouri, Iraqi army commander of the offensive, reached by phone where he was overseeing troops in a northern Mosul neighborhood.
Prime Minister Haider Abadi had hoped to retake Mosul by year’s end, but said this week he expected the offensive to take another three months.