#MosulOps: Iraqi forces prepare to storm Mosul city
With the Mosul battle in its tenth day, military sources said that government troops were getting ready to finally storm the first districts of Mosul city.
"The offensive today will try to further wear down IS, in particular, its ground defences and heavy artillery," Commander of the Nineveh Liberation Operations, Najim al-Jabouri, told The New Arab.
"The fighting has moved closer to the city and we hope that this week we will conclude the first planned phase of combat and move on to the second phase, which is attacking Mosul."
Iraqi forces have been pushing toward Mosul from several directions since the launch of the wide-scale offensive, which involves more than 25,000 Iraqi soldiers, Kurdish forces, Sunni tribal fighters and state-sanctioned Shia militiamen.
Iraqi military sources said that fighting is ongoing on along seven axes, including close to the village of Derik near the recently recaptured town of Bashiqa.
"There have been hit-and-run attacks on the north-east axis for the fourth day in a row near Derik, which Kurdish forces and anti-terror forces are trying to capture," the sources said.
Special Forces Major-General Haidar Fadhil said residents of Tob Zawa and other villages were taken to a camp in the nearby Khazer region for their safety.
The International Organization for Migration says at least 8,940 people have been displaced since the operation to retake Mosul began two weeks ago.
The Special Forces were undertaking clean up operations in areas retaken from the militants to the east of the city, where troops uncovered a vast tunnel network used by IS to shuttle fighters and supplies by motorcycle, Major Salam al-Obeidi said.
The militants have had months to prepare for the long-awaited operation and are believed to have developed extensive defences in and around the city. In recent weeks they are also said to have targeted alleged spies and others they fear may rise up against them.
Meanwhile, France said on Wednesday it had extended the mission of its aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, in the eastern Mediterranean until mid-December to help the offensive.
President Francois Hollande decided to extend the mission after France's defence council "reviewed the military, humanitarian, political and security stakes involved in the recapture of Mosul," a statement issued by his office said.
Agencies contributed to this report