October 28, 2016 6:40 am

US military says Iraq forces have retaken 40 villages from ISIS in Mosul

Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces advance toward Islamic State positions as fighting to retake the extremist-held city of Mosul enters its second week, in the village of Tob Zawa, outside Mosul, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. A convoy of special forces advanced toward the village of Tob Zawa, Monday, encountering roadside bombs and trading heavy fire with the militants. Loudspeakers on the Humvees blared Iraqi patriotic music as they pushed toward the village.

(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed
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BAGHDAD – The U.S. military says Iraqi forces have retaken 40 villages from the Islamic State group near Mosul since a massive operation to drive the militants from the city began last week.

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Isler said Friday that Iraqi troops are consolidating gains made east and south of the city earlier this week, but insisted “momentum” was still on their side.

READ MORE: Iraqi forces uncover ISIS bomb factory, network of tunnels near Mosul

The fight to retake Mosul, which fell to IS in a matter of days in the summer of 2014, is the largest military operation undertaken in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Isler says the U.S.-led coalition has stepped up airstrikes against the militants, and is carrying out three times as many as it did during previous campaigns to drive IS from other Iraqi cities.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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