Iraqi forces secure most of Mosul airport, advance west

Gen. Yahya Rasool, said Iraqi forces had also retaken the military base adjacent to the airport.

"ISIS is using houses full of residents as human shields", Mohammadawi said, as tanks and troops rained fire on suspected ISIS snipers.

"Prominent Rudaw war reporter and journalist Shifa Gardi has been killed in Mosul as she covered clashes", the French news agency reported Saturday on social media.

"The [Iraqis] have captured villages to the west of Mosul and they have penetrated the formal city limits from the south", he said, adding, "We've seen some encouraging initial successes".

"The Iraqi security forces will have to take every precaution for civilian lives and civilian infrastructure, which means that we would plead that no heavy artillery is used, no heavy mortars are used", Koek noted, also saying that civilians' safety must be prioritized.

Meanwhile, Iraqi jets have struck ISIS targets inside neighbouring Syria for the first time, Iraq's Prime Minister said, vowing to chase down militants "everywhere" as his troops opened new fronts in their battle for the city of Mosul. But with the jihadists still in control of half the city and the hardest part of the battle yet to come, these predictions now look naive.

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Iraq's second largest city is split roughly in half by the Tigris River.

Little was left inside the airport, and what was once a runway was littered with dirt and debris.

Rapid response forces are trying to advance beyond the airport to breach Islamic State defences around districts on the southern edge of Mosul.

Along the road beside al-Saadi's base of operations, hundreds of civilians fleeing Mosul walked slowly past, many with sheep, cows and goats in tow. It resulted in the Iraqi forces liberating the city's eastern part, but its western districts remain under the terrorists' control.

A grave containing the bodies of at least 300 members of the security forces was discovered last November on the outskirts of Hamman al Alil, a town about 30 kilometres from Mosul.

American and French air support has helped the Iraqi forces push into western Mosul.

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Damascus and Moscow have denied targeting civilians in Aleppo.

This dense urban terrain, compounded with the presence of thousands of civilians, has forced US forces to adjust their tactics to better assist Iraqi troops.

Iraqi forces, backed by US -led worldwide coalition aerial support, control eastern Mosul.

The Pentagon is kicking former President Barack Obama's preferred nomenclature for the so-called Islamic State to the curb.

Bridging operations under fire are complex and perilous but Iraqi forces have been trained by the USA military and successfully used that strategy before in the fight against ISIL.

"ISIS is a brutal, brutal enemy", said Townsend, speaking in Erbil as Iraq's security forces were about to attack Mosul's airport with help from the USA -led anti-ISIS coalition. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has completed eight camps and says it is planning to start work at another site south of Mosul.

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