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Iraq makes gains in 'difficult' assault on IS-held Mosul

Smoke billows in the background as Iraqi forces gather at the Qayyarah military base, about 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Mosul, as they prepare for an offensive to retake MosulTens of thousands of Iraqi forces were making gains from the Islamic State group in Mosul Tuesday in an offensive US President Barack Obama warned would be a “difficult fight”. With the crucial battle in its second day, Iraqi commanders said progress was being made as fighters pushed on two main fronts against the jihadists’ last stronghold in Iraq. The US military, which is leading a coalition providing air and ground support, said Iraqi forces even looked “ahead of schedule” but senior Western officials warned the battle would take time.

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