At least 18 people were killed when they were trying to flee an Islamic State-controlled town in northern Iraq, where government forces and their allies have waged a war against the terrorist group. Police said two roadside bombs hit a convoy carrying Iraqi families late on Friday (4 November).

The blasts occurred in Hawija, about 120km south of the IS (Deash) stronghold of Mosul. The convoy was reportedly travelling to the nearby town of Al Alam, next to the Tigris River.

One policeman and 17 of the fleeing villagers were killed in the blast, regional police Colonel Nemaa al-Jabouri told Reuters.

On the Mosul front, Iraqi Special Forces were reported to be engaged in heavy fighting with Isis militants on Saturday morning, 5 November. The fighting is most intense in the al-Bakr neighborhood, the Associated Press reported.

The Iraqi troops are reportedly hitting back at the militant attacks with artillery. The special forces advanced deeper into Mosul's urban centre on Friday and launched a two-pronged assault against the Isis fighters. The Iraqi forces have so far lost at least seven of their soldiers in the assault.

Meanwhile, the troops are also clearing buildings in the neighbourhoods they entered in eastern Mosul earlier after driving out the militants.

The offensive to retake Mosul, the last Isis stronghold in Iraq, began about three weeks ago. US-led coalition forces are assisting Iraqi troops in the offensive.

Mosul offensive people fleeing homes
Twin blasts hit a convoy of Iraqi families fleeing from Isis-held towns late on Friday, 4 November, as Iraqi troops continue to advance into Mosul - Representational photo Reuters