>> US forces are beefing up their support of the Iraqi military to fully retake Mosul from the clutches of Islamic State militants. The move could galvanize the two month campaign to recapture the Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq. Jihadists now control three quarters of the city of Mosul where Iraqi forces are looking to push deeper with American help.
Says the U.S. commander of the 1700 strong task force strike.>> All along we had said that the fighting would get tougher the closer that we got to Mosul and that certainly has played out. There was rapid progress as they were clearing the outlying villages and making their way closer and closer to the city.
But as they got closer to the dense urban terrain operations still progressed. But they certainly did slow down in terms of the ground that they could cover.>> Mosul is home to about 1 million vulnerable residents caught in the cross-fire where food and water shortages are commonplace. The battle over Mosul will no doubt be fierce.
On Thursday, the Islamic State claimed three suicide car bombs. Killing 15 civilians and eight Iraqi policeman in a suburb only recently retaken from militants just eight weeks ago.