Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces, inching their way towards Mosul for the second day, have encountered roadside explosives and booby traps along the way, as they continued their offensive to retake the city from the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

Iraqi commanders said on Tuesday that progress was being made, with an estimated 30,000 Iraqi army troops, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Sunni tribal forces pushing from two main fronts against the ISIL stronghold in Iraq.

They added that ISIL fighters were hitting back with suicide car bomb attacks but that the offensive was going as planned.

"Many villages have already been liberated," said Sabah al-Numan, the spokesman of the elite counter-terrorism service.

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"Iraqi forces have achieved their goals and even more, but we're careful to stick to the plan and not rush this."

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Khazir near the the frontline, said the advance was "not as formidable" as the first day of the offensive. 

She said that while Peshmerga fighters have reached another district 20km outside of the Mosul city centre, the fighters are still unable to take control of it.

Khalil Miro, a colonel of the Kurdish Peshmerga, told Al Jazeera that ISIL remains holed up in the district of Hamdaniyah.

"We won't move to Hamdaniyah. This will require cooperation with the Iraqi army. We will stay in this area," Miro told Al Jazeera. 

Our correspondent said the second day of the offensive involves "more consolidation" of the positions gained the day before.

"There has been some little gains today and not as formidable as the ones we have seen yesterday mainly to the west of Erbil," Khodr said. 

She said that Peshmerga fighters had to avoid main roads, taking instead the dirt paths to avoid the explosives.

"So every village they will go through, even if the ISIL fighters have already left, it takes them a while to get in," she said, adding that the clearing would take some time.

"ISIL were on those villages for more than two years, and were ruling those villages. So they have a lot of time to set all their booby traps. So it's going to be extremely difficult."

Another area leading to Mosul called Bartella, which is a Christian town, also remains under ISIL control, our correspondent said.

Two main fronts 

There are two main front the Iraqi forces are moving, from the south in Qayyarah, and east, where another push involving Kurdish peshmerga fighters is under way.

In the south, forces inching forward along the Tigris river were training their sights on a village called Hammam al-Alil, while units east of Mosul were close to Qaraqosh, once Iraq's biggest Christian town.

Advancing in armoured convoys across the dusty plains surrounding Mosul, forces moved into villages defended by pockets of ISIL fighters after intensive aerial bombardment.

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Iraqi forces have significant ground to cover before reaching the boundaries of the city, which ISIL is defending with berms, bombs and burning oil trenches.

ISIL forces are vastly outnumbered, with the US military estimating 3,000 to 4,500 fighters in and around Mosul.

The US-led coalition said strikes destroyed 52 targets on the first day of the operation.

"Early indications are that Iraqi forces have met their objectives so far, and that they are ahead of schedule for this first day," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.

Most of the coalition's support has come in the shape of air strikes and training, but US, British and French special forces are also on the ground to advise local troops.

 

Source: Al Jazeera News And Agencies