>> A victory over Islamic State, Iraqi TV saying on Saturday that security forces are in full control of Kirkuk. Militants had attacked the oil producing city in an act of retaliation after the campaign began to take back Mosul, Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq. In the early hours of Friday morning, militants stormed buildings in Kirkuk, fierce fighting followed with 35 people killed in clashes.
But now the focus turns back to Mosul. On Saturday, the Iraqi army stormed nearby Christian town, Qaraqosh, under militant control since 2014. The army is trying to advance from the south and the east, while Kurdish Peshmerga fighters hold fronts in the east and north. The Iraqi military says some 50 villages have been taken from the militants since operations began on Monday, helping pave the way to Mosul itself.
Checking in on progress, Saturday saw a surprise visit from US Defense Secretary, Ash Carter. After a visit to Turkey, he arrived in Baghdad to assess the American backed campaign. Around 5,000 US Army personnel are in Iraq, more than 100 directly involved in the Mosul offensive. Air power from a US led coalition is providing cover for the advance, it's expected to culminate in the biggest battle waged in the country since the 2003 US led invasion.
But the road ahead is only likely to get tougher, with resistance expected to grow the closer they get to Mosul.