Men are held by Iraqi national security agents, to be interrogated at a checkpoint, as oil fields burn in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq. (FELIPE DANA/AP)
BBC Arabic’s Feras Kilani in Mosul, with cameraman Marek Polaszewski: “A large armed car drives packed with explosives drives directly into the convoy”
The Iraqi prime minister has warned so-called Islamic State (IS) militants fighting in Mosul to lay down their weapons if they want to live, state media reports.
Speaking on a visit to the front line to the east of the city, Haider al-Abadi said government-led forces “will not retreat and will not be broken”.
He said his message to the people of Mosul was “we will liberate you soon”.
The city has been under IS control for more than two years.
Mr Abadi called on IS fighters to surrender after government forces gained a foothold in Mosul’s eastern suburbs.
“My message to IS, if they want to save their lives, they should lay down their weapons now,” the prime minister told reporters.
Government forces on Saturday also gained control of Hammam al-Alil, about 15 km (10 miles) south of Mosul on the Tigris river, despite fierce resistance, the army said.
Lieutenant-General Raed Shakir Jawdat said security forces were in control of the centre of the town, but did not say whether IS militants had been pushed out completely.
The operation to take back control of Mosul continued as government forces tried to clear the eastern districts, including al-Zahra, which they entered on Friday.
Government troops and IS fighters exchanged sniper fire from residential rooftops, with both sides also firing mortar rounds. The fiercest clashes were in the al-Bakr area.
Satellite images show IS barricades on key routes in Mosul and razed ground near the airport. STRATFOR.COM/AIRBUS
Iraqi forces continue their assault on Mosul in an operation to take back control from IS militants. Getty Images
Closer-up image of the line of barricades. STRATFOR.COM/AIRBUS
Satellite images of Mosul reveal how IS fighters constructed multiple barricades across key routes into the northern Iraqi city.
Concrete barricades and rubble can be seen blocking key streets, while buildings near Mosul airport were levelled for line-of-sight reasons.
Mosul fell to the jihadists in June 2014 and their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, chose a mosque in the city as a place to proclaim the establishment of a “caliphate”.
Before the offensive began on 17 October, there were believed to be between 3,000 and 5,000 militants remaining in Mosul, along with up to 1.5 million civilians.
The Associated Press
ISIS fighters launched counterattacks Saturday against Iraqi special forces in eastern Mosul, emerging from populated areas deeper in the city to target the troops with mortars and suicide car bombs in clashes that raged late into the night.
Artillery shelling thundered as snipers traded fire from rooftops and civilians emerged waving white flags. There were fresh indications that other residents were being held back by the militants to be used as human shields.
Iraqi army soldiers walk by the river near a bridge destroyed by an airstrike in Qayara, south of Mosul. (FELIPE DANA/AP)
The seesawing battle highlights the challenges ahead for Iraqi forces as they press into more densely populated neighborhoods of the country’s second largest city. The Associated Press