Iraqi Prime Minister orders air force strike against Islamic State inside Syria

Zahed al-Jatouni, a Nineveh provincial government official, said the corpses belonged to civilians who were killed by landmine blasts when they were attempting to flee the western area of Iraq's second-largest city.

A police spokesman said a Russian member of Islamic State had been captured on Wednesday near Mosul airport.

Nearly a week into a major push on the city's west bank, they were gaining significant ground, taking on IS on several fronts in one of the most intense phases of the four-month-old operation to retake Mosul.

Hammam al-Alil, Iraq-Twenty four hours a day, American artillery booms from dug-in positions outside of this small town on the banks of the Tigris River, providing Iraqi troops pushing into western Mosul with accurate firepower within minutes of relaying the request through their American advisors.

He added that the Iraqi forces raised the national flag above several buildings in the neighborhood after inflicting heavy losses on Daesh terrorists, without elaborating.

Iraqi troops entered the neighbourhood of Wadi Hajjar, on the northern border of Mosul airport, according to General Thamer al-Husseini, head of the Rapid Response Forces that is affiliated with the Defence Ministry. "Where's the security when these machines are hovering over people and killing us?"

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"I'm hiding in my house, and my wife lives in constant fear of Daesh raiding our home", said Abu Karim, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.

Eyewitnesses also described ISIS fighters seizing civilian vehicles, a pattern of the group in the battle for Mosul.

Meanwhile, colleagues have paid tribute to a Kurdish journalist who was killed by a road side bomb while she was reporting on the battle to recapture Mosul.

The United Nations has said it was planning for a possible exodus of 250,000 people or more from west Mosul.

AFP correspondents also saw a lot of dark smoke above west Mosul, which government forces said were from fires lit by IS as an obfuscation tactic.

Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rasheed Yarallah, commander of Iraqi forces in Nineveh province, said counterterrorism forces continued to clear al-Mamoun and were storming the Wadi Hajjar neighborhood.

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All of Mosul's bridges spanning the Tigris River and connecting the western part of the city, still held by ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, with its eastern sector, were disabled by air strikes past year.

Mohammed Al Mawsily, manager of a radio station that broadcasts exclusively to Mosul from Irbil, told CNN that listeners who'd called in from the embattled city since the offensive began had expressed some cautious optimism. A lack of power is making it hard to charge cell phones, with many people relying on generators for electricity at the same time fuel prices are rising.

Of those, several dozen had been forcibly taken into Mosul in the early stage of the offensive from nearby regions to serve as human shields.

As they pushed deeper from the outer edges of the city into more densely populated areas, resistance appeared to stiffen.

Iraqi officials said they had information that recent attacks in Baghdad had been organised from inside Syria.

"The Iraqi forces will have more power attacking from higher ground".

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday promised that Iraqi forces would do all they could to keep civilians safe.

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