Iraqi forces gain foothold in northwest Mosul after surprise new push

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"The Iraqi army is in the fight with the coalition supporting them, with full support, and we're going to continue to stand by the Iraqi army and the Iraqi people who are fighting this enemy", Mattis said.

Iraqi forces pushed further into Mosul from the north on the second day of a new push to speed up the almost seven-month attempt to dislodge Daesh from the city, military commanders said on Friday.

Iraqi forces are happily facing "victory or martyrdom", in the battle against the extremists, Yahya Rasool said in a statement released by his office. Both nations are seeking favorable terms under a status of forces agreement, or SOFA, which would spell out legal protections for USA forces stationed in Iraq.

The denial followed comments by U.S. and Iraq officials in the Associated Press which said that United States secretary of defence James Mattis was now in talks with Abadi to maintain a "modest" USA military presence in Mosul after the defeat of IS.

The Pentagon has close to 7,000 USA troops in Iraq, many not publicly acknowledged because they are on temporary duty or under specific personnel rules. Nevertheless, that footprint has since grown given Iraqi forces' need for support.

At the height of the surge of USA forces in 2007, there were about 170,000 American troops in the country. Officials from Washington and Baghdad confirmed the talks to allow American troops to remain in several bases in Baghdad, as well as positions along the Syrian border and near the ISIS-held city of Mosul, the AP reported Thursday.

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Abadi moderated his comments saying that the only USA troops who should remain would provide training assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to maintain "full readiness" in case of "future security challenges". That number dropped to 40,000 before complete troop withdrawal in 2011.

On Thursday, U.S. Special Operations Command chief Gen. Raymond Thomas refused to characterize the Afghan War as a stalemate, but did question the level of commitment to the war effort by the Obama administration.

The talks over a longer-term USA presence has greatly concerned Iran, which in turn is increasing support to some of Iraq's Shiite militia forces, said Jafar al-Husseini, a representative from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi Shiite militia group with close ties to Iran.

Jafar al-Husseini, a representative from the Kataib Hezbollah militia - who are closely linked to Iran - said the army and paramilitaries were strong enough to defend Iraq themselves.

The jihadists have in recent days carried out diversionary attacks against security forces from their desert hideouts in the western province of Anbar.

He added that the source could not confirm whether the Iraqi air force or the US-led coaltion was responsible for the raid.

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