Islamic State is ‘a brutal opponent’, says US general

                                An Iraqi special forces soldier fires a cannon at Islamic States fighters in Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq on 20 October 2016.
The so-called Islamic State (IS) group is “a brutal opponent” in the fight for Mosul, the head of coalition forces for Iraq and Syria has told the BBC.

US Lt Gen Stephen Townsend was speaking on the sidelines of the battle to retake the Iraqi city from the jihadist group.

Gen Townsend also said IS was “adaptable, creative and cunning”.

Iraqi forces on Thursday said they had re-captured the town of Bartella, less than 15km (10 miles) east of Mosul.

The predominantly Christian town had seen fierce IS resistance, with reports of several suicide car bombs by militants in response to the special forces’ advance.

Bartella is key to the major offensive to retake Mosul, according to the head of Iraq’s counter-terrorism service, Taleb Sheghati al-Kenani.

Elsewhere, Islamic State fighters were reported to have set fire to a chemical plant south of Mosul, as they were retreating.

It is not yet clear if the fire has been extinguished – a similar fire at the same plant in 2003 burnt for weeks, sending sulphur dioxide into the air.

Separately on Thursday, the US said an American soldier had been killed in a roadside bomb attack in northern Iraq. The incident was the fourth US combat fatality in Iraq since operations against IS began there and in Syria in 2014. Read More

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