A first contingent of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces on Monday attacked the Daesh-held town of Bashiqa north-east of Mosul, while a senior commander of Daesh was killed in an air strike on the city - the last bastion of the terror group in Iraq.
Most of Mosul’s outlying areas have been cleared as part of a major offensive launched by the Iraqi army backed by the international coalition on October 17, to retake the country’s second largest city which fell to Daesh in June 2014.
The Mosul campaign, the most complex military operation in Iraq in a decade, brings together a force of around 100,000 soldiers, security forces, Shia militias and Kurdish Peshmerga, backed by an international coalition, to eliminate Daesh.
Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, one of the top Daesh commanders, was killed in Mosul's southern town of Hammam al-Alil which has been recaptured and secured by the Iraqi army, military sources confirmed.
The first waves of a 2,000-strong Kurdish Peshmerga force entered Bashiqa on Monday, trying to clear a pocket of Daesh outside the city.
Meanwhile, Iraqi troops engaged in a fierce urban war with Daesh in Mosul's eastern neighbourhoods.
"Our aim is to take control and clear out all the Daesh militants," Lieutenant-Colonel Safeen Rasoul said.
"Our estimates indicate there are about 100 still left and 10 suicide car bombers."
Iraqi forces face stiff resistance, particularly, in the form of suicide car bombs as they push their way deeper into Mosul.
Iraqi commanders say there have been 100 suicide car bomb attacks on the eastern front and 140 in the south.
Daesh had also deployed drones strapped with explosives, long-range artillery shells filled with chlorine and mustard gas, and had placed trained snipers into strategic locations, a top Kurdish official said on Sunday.
The Iraqi army said Daesh was using thousands of civilians as human shields.
As Peshmerga fighters entered Bashiqa, a loud explosion rocked their convoy.
Two suicide car bombs had tried to stop advancing forces, but were unsuccessful, a Peshmerga officer said.
In the eastern districts of Mosul, which Iraqi special forces took last week, Daesh has immersed itself into the population, ambushing and isolating troops.