2016-10-27 18:09:32

a bomb-making facility on Thursday in a village recently retaken from the Islamic State group as their allies battled the militants in a push toward the city from the south.

Special forces commanders said the operation was proceeding as planned, but that they were waiting for forces in the south to advance further before resuming their push toward the country’s second largest city, which fell to IS in 2014.

“The operation has not been stopped and is proceeding as planned,” special forces Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil said.

Iraqi army Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jabori said forces south of Mosul retook the town of Staff al-Tut in the Tigris River valley the day before, and are now 20 miles (35 kilometers) from the city. He said local tribal and militia forces have been deployed to protect the gains while his troops regroup for their next push toward the city.

The special forces, who are 5 1/2 miles (9 kilometers) east of the city, continued cleanup operations in the village of Tob Zawa. They found a tire shop that had been converted into a factory for making roadside bombs and attaching armor to vehicles.

They also found a tunnel equipped with fans and lights that ran from beneath a mosque out to a road. Iraqi forces have found extensive tunneling networks in areas retaken from IS, which the militants used to elude U.S.-led coalition warplanes. IS has also rigged homes and other buildings with explosives to slow the troops’ advance.