A sudden surge in the battle for Mosul. Iraq's army launching a fresh assault towards the city center, in what maybe new momentum for their seven-week campaign against the Islamic State's strong hold. Reuters Patrick Markey is in Erbil.>> So far the fighting has been focused in the east of the city where US trained special forces are advancing, taking district by district.
But they've been facing a lot of resistance from suicide bombers and militants who are dug in tunnels and within the houses, and amongst the civil population.>> Mosul residents told Reuters by telephone that the troops punched through to just east of the Tigris River. American soldiers seen here providing support to the Iraqi forces.
The US military estimates there are around 3,000 Islamic State fighters dug in, down from up to 5,000 at the beginning of the offensive. The UN has estimated the loss to government forces has been just as grizzly. Some 2,000, a figure Baghdad says is exaggerated but they haven't released their own statistics.
So far we've seen maybe 80,000 people who leaved the city and gone to camps around most of itself. And the problem for people left inside also is a lack of water and food as this is difficult for aid agencies to get inside. And Islamic State may have targeted some of the water supplies as a way to cause chaos in Mosul.
They've had months to prepare, an intense fight for key to their carafate.