>> The Mosul offensive is advancing faster than planned. That's according to the Iraqi Prime Minister. The campaign to seize the stronghold from the clutches of Islamic State began on Monday, an Iraqi army elite claiming control of two more villages on Thursday. Reuter's reporters on the scene describing mortar fire, explosions, and helicopters flying overhead.
Residents relieved to see the army after many months of difficulties under the militant's rule.>> The situation was tragic because of Daesh. They would not even let us tend to our sheep. They would hit us daily, asking us about our beards and clothes. They beat us the other day because the sheep left the village.
>> Islamic State are using suicide car bombs, roadside bombs, and snipers to push back the attack. Battling Kurdish Peshmerga fighters as they steadily recover outlying territory. The US led coalition providing air and ground support as well, as clouds of black smoke some front line villages probably caused by oil fires.
A tactic the militants use to escape air surveillance. All this before the main push into the city. A battle expected to be the biggest in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 which toppled Saddam Hussein.