Iraqi forces pushed Islamic State (IS) militants back further in Mosul on Tuesday in a renewed effort to seize the northern city and deal a decisive blow to the militant group, though progress was slower in some districts, the army said.
But fighting in neighborhoods in the southeast however has been hard and tougher.
A top Iraqi commander, Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati, told The Associated Press that the operation to retake Mosul from ISIS could be complete in three months or less.
The Mosul offensive began in October previous year.
"There are many variables", he said, describing the combat as "guerrilla warfare".
The advances however did slow down in November and December as the IS put up fierce resistance and used the civilian population as cover, therefore making it hard for Iraqi forces to target them.
"Trauma casualties remain extremely high, particularly near frontline areas", it said.
Better defences against militant vehicle bombs and improved coordination among the advancing troops had helped put Isil on the back foot, U.S. and Iraqi military officers said on Tuesday.
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Carter said the decision to keep a residual US military presence in Iraq would be up to the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Early in the offensive, a variety of forces quickly retook significant swaths of land, but the going has been much tougher inside the city itself.
A spokesman for the rapid response units of Iraq's federal police Lieutenant-Colonel Abdel Amir al-Mohammedawi, told Reuters IS was hiding among civilians.
He said the rapid response units and Iraqi forces had battled their way into the Palestine and Sumer districts in the last day, but the IS militants were using civilians as cover and shooting at them to flee.
"Whenever they (IS) withdraw from a district, they shell it at random, and it's heavy shelling", he said.
Islamic State jihadists are using small commercial drones to attack Iraqi security forces in the battle for Mosul, a U.S. commander said Wednesday.
Major General Najm al-Jubbouri said, "They will soon liberate other areas and hopefully finish the eastern side".
Still, he said, IS resistance had weakened in several areas.