A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter aims to fire during a battle with Islamic State militants at Topzawa village, near Bashiqa, near Mosul, Iraq October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
Reuters: Islamic State steps up counter-attacks as fighting edges closer to Mosul
Islamic State expanded its attacks on Monday against the army and Kurdish forces across Iraq, trying to relieve pressure on the militant group's defenses around Mosul, its last major urban stronghold in the country.
About 80 Islamic State-held villages and towns have been retaken in the first week of the offensive, bringing Iraqi and Kurdish forces closer to the edge of the city itself - where the battle will be hardest fought.
The Mosul campaign, which aims to crush the Iraqi half of Islamic State's declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria, may become the biggest battle yet in the 13 years of turmoil triggered by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and could require a massive humanitarian relief operation.
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