Ferocity of Kirkuk attack points to tough fight for MosulBy Babak Dehghanpisheh and Michael Georgy KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - At least 100 fighters sneaked into Kirkuk in the early hours of Friday with machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, suicide vests and a message: "Islamic State has taken over." The message blared out from several mosque loudspeakers while the militants went on a rampage. By the time they had blasted their way across the city in a brazen and complex attack, 99 civilians and members of the security forces were dead and 63 of their own were in the morgue, according to Iraqi security officials. The scale of the operation - the largest of several by Islamic State to divert an advance on their stronghold in Mosul - shows how tough the battle for Mosul may become and points to a continued ability of the militant group to undermine security across the country even if its northern bastion falls.
Wave of strikes as IS puts up tough defence of Mosul
Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul faced stiff resistance on Monday from the Islamic State group despite an unprecedented wave of US-led coalition air strikes in support of the week-old offensive. Federal forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters gained ground in several areas, AFP correspondents said, but the jihadists were hitting back with shelling, sniper fire, suicide car bombs and booby traps. IS has also tried to draw attention away from losses around Mosul by attacking Iraqi forces elsewhere, the latest coming on Sunday near the Jordanian border.
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