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(KHAZER, Iraq) — Iraq’s Kurdish forces say they are pausing in their advance on Mosul after capturing a handful of villages to the east from ISIS, while the Iraqi army presses ahead with the next stage of the operation to retake the extremist-held city.

Col. Khathar Sheikhan of the Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, says his troops achieved their objectives and “are just holding our positions” in the Khazer area on Tuesday.

The pause comes after a day of intense fighting involving airstrikes, heavy artillery and ISIS car bombs.

The battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and ISIS’ last urban bastion, started on Monday. It’s expected to take weeks or even months.

The front line east of Mosul is some 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the city.

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