Iraq forces say villagers hang white flags

AP , Monday 31 Oct 2016

An Iraqi officer in Bazwaya, the last village east of Mosul, says residents have hung up white flags on buildings and from windows in a sign they would not resist special forces troops entering to drive out Islamic State fighters.

Maj. Salam al-Obeidi says troops are asking the villagers to stay inside their homes as the Iraqi forces move through the streets. It's a precaution against potential suicide bombers, a common IS tactic.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on his website that he would be visiting troops near the front line.

Iraqi special forces have entered the last village to the east of Mosul's city limits, clearing a path toward the city that was followed by army units.

Armored vehicles, including Abrams tanks, drew mortar and small arms fire as they moved on the village of Bazwaya in the dawn assault on Monday, while allied artillery and airstrikes hit IS positions.

The army says its ninth division had moved up toward Mosul and was now approximately three miles from its eastern outskirts.

At one point, a Humvee packed with explosives raced ahead in attempt to ram the forces, but Iraqi troops opened fire on it, setting off the charge and blowing up the vehicle.

Plumes of smoke rose in the air from IS positions hit by artillery and airstrikes.

State television described the operation as a "battle of honor" to liberate the city, which was captured by IS in 2014. It said troops were advancing on the city from three axes.

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