A convoy carrying Iraqi families fleeing from a town contolled by the Daesh terrorist organisation in the north of the country was struck by two roadside bombs late on Friday, killing 18 people, a police officer said.
The convoy was on its way from the town of Hawija, about 120 km (75 miles) south of Daesh's stronghold in Mosul, as they were being taken to the town of Al Alam.
Regional police colonel Nemaa al-Jabour said 17 of the deceased were from displaced families and one policeman in an accompanying patrol car was also killed.
Fight for Mosul continues
Iraqi special forces were clearing buildings in neighbourhoods they entered in eastern Mosul a day earlier, after driving Daesh out in their efforts to take back the city,
Clashes were ongoing in the morning, with the two sides firing mortars and automatic weapons at each other's positions.
Fighting was most intense in the al-Bakr neighbourhood as sniper duels were reported being played out from rooftops in the residential areas.
On Friday, Iraqi special forces launched a two-pronged assault deeper into Mosul's urban centre, starting the most intense street clashes against Daesh since the offensive to retake the city began nearly three weeks ago.
At least seven special forces personnel have been killed in the fighting so far, according to Reuters.
Over 3,000 Iraqi troops are taking part in the assault under intense US-led coalition air strikes. The pace of the fighting has also slowed as Iraqi forces moved from fighting in rural areas to the tight and narrow streets of Mosul.sul
At least seven suicide attackers in bomb-laden vehicles attacked Iraqi troops on Friday. Five of them were neutralised before reaching their targets.
The liberation of Mosul from Daesh is expected to take weeks if not months. Moving from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in house-to-house clashes through booby-trapped buildings is time-consuming, and the Iraqi Army has opted for slower operations to minimise casualties.
Nearly 1 million civilians are still in the city. Daesh has driven thousands of civilians deeper into Mosul's built-up areas to be used as human shields, while hundreds of others have fled to government-controlled territory and thousands have fled into western Syria.
Iraqi forces have made uneven progress in closing in on the city since the operation began on Oct. 17. Advances have been slower from the south, with government troops still some 35 kilometres away.
Kurdish fighters and Iraqi Army units are deployed to the north, while government-sanctioned Shia militias are sweeping in from the west to try to cut off any Daesh escape route.