Iraqis advance in Mosul as bomb south of Baghdad kills 21

Thousands of Iraqi civilians have fled Tal Afar as Shi'ite paramilitary groups close in around the Islamic State-held town on the road between Mosul and Raqqa, the main cities of the militant group's self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Around 5,000 soldiers are now in northern Iraq, assisting and advising Iraqi forces participating in the offensive to recapture Mosul from Islamic State. Troops have been fighting inside eastern Mosul since the start of the month.

"These drones were found in one of the houses (retaken by the army)", Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi of Iraq's USA -trained Counter Terrorism Service told reporters at a military headquarters in a Mosul suburb.

In Mosul, Iraqi military estimates said that around 5,000 to 6,000 terrorists would face around 100,000 armed men of coalition forces including Iraqi government troops and Kurdish peshmerga fighters.

The agreement will restrict the movement of the jihadists in and out of Mosul and aid the attempts of the forces ranged against them to complete the encirclement of the city from the western side, according to the officials.

Badr is the biggest component of a coalition of Shi'ite forces known as Popular Mobilisation who are assisting the USA backed offensive seeking Mosul's capture - regarded as a major step in dismantling Islamic State's self-styled "caliphate". With this road under control, there are no traditional methods by which IS fighters or supplies can enter or exit Mosul.

"This is what we are dealing with now", Mohandes said, implying the militias would try to separate Mosul from Tal Afar.

Militants have steadily retreated into Mosul from outlying areas. It was also used as an escape route for senior ISIS members and their families, who fled Mosul for Syria, civilians have told CNN.

Forces have so far encouraged residents to remain in their homes as they inched through the city, fighting house-to-house.

Tel Afar is a town populated predominantly by the Turkmen ethnic minority, who are mainly Sunni Muslim although there was a significant Shia Turkmen population there until Daesh extremists forced them to leave in 2014.

The militants are dug in among more than a million civilians as a tactic to hamper air strikes.

CNN has repeatedly inquired about military casualty numbers with Iraq's Joint Operations Command, but the Iraqi military has refused to release that information. More than 68,000 people are registered as displaced by the fighting, moving from villages and towns around the city to government-held areas, according to United Nations estimates. It also does not include the 3,000 families which have fled Tal Afar. "These victories would not have occurred if it weren't for the cooperation of civilians with the security forces", Abadi told a press conference in Baghdad, confirming the role of informers inside the city.

Later, they show a body they say is that fighter. One was crying "my son, my son".

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