Iraqi special forces join Mosul offensive against IS

An Iraqi military convoy advances towards the city of Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. A senior Iraqi general on Wednesday called on Iraqis fighting for the Islamic State group in Mosul to surrender as a wide-scale operation to retake the militant-held city entered its third day. (AP Photo)
An Iraqi military convoy advances towards the city of Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. A senior Iraqi general on Wednesday called on Iraqis fighting for the Islamic State group in Mosul to surrender as a wide-scale operation to retake the militant-held city entered its third day. (AP Photo)

KHAZER, Iraq (AP) — An Iraqi general says special forces have joined the Mosul offensive with a pre-dawn advance on a nearby town held by the Islamic State group.

Gen. Maan al-Saadi says the elite Counterterrorism Forces advanced on the town of Bartalla with the aid of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and heavy artillery on Thursday, the fourth day of a massive operation to retake Iraq’s second-largest city.

The special forces are expected to lead the way into the city itself, where they will face fierce resistance in an urban landscape where IS militants are preparing for a climactic battle.

The offensive is the largest operation launched by Iraqi forces since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It is expected to take weeks, if not months.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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