08:59, 25 September 2020
watch on Dushanbe time, GMT+5
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Troops advance on western Mosul as Mattis holds talks

Iraqi forces advanced into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second

day of a push to drive ISIL from the city's western half, as the visiting US defence secretary met with officials to discuss the fight against the armed group. With aerial support from the US-led coalition, Iraqi police and army troops launched the offensive on Sunday, part of a 100-day-old campaign that has already driven the fighters from the eastern half of the city. Iraqi helicopters fired rockets at the village of Abu Saif early on Monday, targeting a hill that overlooks the city's airport. By noon, the forces entered the village and gained control over much of the strategic hill as fighting was still raging. Separately, militarised police in armoured vehicles were moving toward the sprawling Ghazlani military base on the southwestern outskirts of the city. A US-led coalition has been providing close air support throughout the campaign to retake Iraq's second-largest city. US special operations forces are embedded with some Iraqi units and thousands of US troops are in Iraq providing logistical and other support. Meanwhile, US defence secretary Jim Mattis was holding discussions with US and Iraqi officials, a week before he is expected to present a new strategy to President Donald Trump for defeating the Islamic State group.