(AFP) Troops of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service will resume their offensive against the militant ISIL group in east Mosul on Friday after several days of relative quiet, an officer said.

The battle to retake the city, the insurgents’ last major bastion in Iraq, is now in its fourth week, and while troops have pushed into the built-up area, there are weeks, if not months, of fighting still to go.

“After a few days of quiet, we will start a new attack this afternoon on the Karkukli neighborhood,” Lieutenant Colonel Muntadhar Salem said, referring to an eastern district of Mosul.

“We’ll start this attack from our positions in the Al-Samah neighborhood,” he added.

Iraqi forces launched a huge operation to retake Mosul on October 17, with federal and Kurdish regional forces closing in on the city from three sides.

Pro-government paramilitaries later began an advance on the town of Tal Afar, which commands the city’s western approaches, with the goal of cutting the militants off from territory they control in neighboring Syria.

ISIL overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground.

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