Iraqi troops advancing towards Mosul battled on Saturday for the last town left between them and the Islamic State stronghold to the north, which is already under assault from special forces fighting inside the city's eastern districts.
Saturday's attack on Hammam al-Alil, about 15 km (10 miles) south of Mosul, targeted a force of at least 70 Islamic State fighters in the Tigris river town, commander of the Mosul operations Major-General Najm al-Jabouri said.
Jabouri said the assault began around 10 a.m. (0700 GMT). Some militants had already tried to escape across the river, but others put up heavy resistance and the troops had thwarted three attempted suicide car bombings.
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