Iraqi and Kurdish commanders said they have paused their advance on Mosul, a day after the start of a massive operation to retake the Islamic State-held city, which is expected to take weeks, if not months.
Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces gather ahead of an operation to re-take the Islamic State-held City of Mosul, outside Irbil, Iraq.
Source: Associated Press
The front lines to the east of Mosul were largely quiet, a day after Iraqi Kurdish forces advanced amid a barrage of U.S.-led airstrikes and heavy artillery.
"We are just holding our positions," said Colonel Khathar Sheikhan, of the Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga, which captured a handful of villages east of Mosul yesterday.
"The Iraqi army will now advance past our arenas of control."
"We have achieved our objectives," he said.
But an Iraqi special forces commander said his troops have delayed an advance following a request from Kurdish forces for more time to achieve their goals.
It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting accounts.
Brigade General Haider Fadhil said his men had planned to move at dawn, but postponed the operation.
He said Iraqi army and Kurdish commanders would meet later today.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had announced the long-awaited offensive before dawn yesterday, vowing to liberate the city from more than two years of extremist rule.
Mosul is Iraq's second largest city and the IS group's last major urban bastion in the country.
The large and complex battle for Mosul is expected to last weeks or months.
It will involve more than 25,000 troops, including the Iraqi army, the Kurdish peshmerga, Sunni tribal fighters and Shiite militias.
The U.S. military is providing air support and playing a supporting role on the ground.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said the operation was proceeding as planned and that Iraqi forces were making "excellent progress."