Iraqi special forces, backed by allied aerial units, staged an assault on the ISIS-held town of Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul, earlier on Saturday.
Coalitio troops are conducting a three-pronged operation on the town, in an effort to drive ISIS militia out for good. Hammam al-Alil is the last ISIS-held stronghold before Mosul itself, so it must be retaken before the final assault on the city.
It has also been reported that ISIS is forcibly conscripting males of 9 years of age and older in a desperate attempt to stop the offensive.
ISIS troops have carried out a number of suicide bombings and used explosive-laden drones on advancing troops.
Meanwhile, Turkish air force assets have launched attacks on no fewer than 70 ISIS targets in northern Syria.
While the expected outcome of the ground offensive is the fall of Mosul, victory will come at a heavy price for Iraqi troops, as ISIS are acutely aware that the fall of Mosul will signify a death blow to the morale of its fighters. The city had been chosen as the capital of their proposed caliphate.