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MOSUL OFFENSIVE GOING FASTER THAN PLANNED, IRAQI PM SAYS


The offensive to seize back Mosul from Islamic State is going faster than planned, Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday, as Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched a new military operation to clear villages on the city's outskirts.Howitzer and mortar fire started at dawn, hitting a group of villages held by Islamic State about 10-20 km (6-12 miles) from Mosul, while helicopters flew overhead, according to Reuters reporters at two frontline locations north and east of Mosul.To the sound of machine gun fire and explosions, dozens of black Humvees of the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), mounted with machine guns, headed toward Bartella, an abandoned Christian village just east of Mosul.

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