Prague, 17 November 2004 (RFE/RL) -- As U.S. and Iraqi forces were engaged in mopping-up operations in the city of Al-Fallujah, the U.S. military continued an offensive on the city of Mosul today.
The U.S. military said American and Iraqi forces in Mosul had retaken most of the police stations in the western part of the city and secured bridges captured by insurgents during unrest last week.
The U.S. command said troops fighting in Mosul had so far met "very little resistance." U.S. Colonel Michael Kurilla said that at least eight insurgents were killed yesterday when they attempted to ambush a U.S. convoy near the old city of Mosul.
The head of civil affairs for the U.S. Marines 1st Regimental Combat Team said it might be possible for civilians to return to Al-Fallujah as soon as next week.
Reports said about 1,200 U.S. soldiers and 1,600 troops from the Iraqi Army and National Guard were involved in the siege on Iraq's third-largest city, with a population of more than 1 million residents. Warplanes and helicopters circled over Mosul, providing support for U.S. and Iraqi forces as they pushed their way into the city.
Reports also said that all five bridges leading into Mosul were under the control of U.S. and Iraq forces. Fighting was described as taking place only in isolated areas.
In Al-Fallujah, heavy gunfire was reported in the southern part of the city. But the U.S. military downplayed the significance of the continued clashes. Colonel Leonard DiFrancisci, head of civil affairs for the U.S. Marines 1st Regimental Combat Team, said today that it might be possible for civilians to return as soon as next week.
Other fighting was reported around Iraq today. A car bomber ran his vehicle into a U.S. tank near the city of Beiji, about 250 kilometers north of Baghdad. Witnesses said at least 10 people were killed and another 20 wounded. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.
Nine people were reported killed and 15 others wounded in fighting in the town of Ramadi, another Iraqi city where violence also erupted last week after the assault on Al-Fallujah started.
(compiled from wire reports)