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Iraqi forces launched an offensive on extremists defending Mosul's west bank Sunday, in what could be the most brutal fighting yet in a four-month-old operation on the city.Federal police and interior ministry forces were expected to start the new phase in the offensive by moving on Mosul airport, which is on the southern edge of the city, west of the Tigris River.After shaping operations around Mosul, it took Iraq's most seasoned forces -- the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) -- more than two months to clear the eastern side of Mosul.Prior to the offensive that saw IS seize Mosul and much of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland nearly three years ago, the east bank was more ethnically diverse than the west, where analysts believe the jihadists could enjoy more support.IS fighters and Mosul residents remained able to move across both sides of the city during much of the fighting in the east but all bridges across the Tigris have now been dropped and the jihadists in the west are all but besieged.
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