They're the elite unit leading the charge against Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq. Known as the Golden Division, these American-trained commandos are recognisable for their all-black combat gear, skull masks and balaclavas which cover their faces and their battlefield prowess.

In the most recent fighting in the battle for Mosul, the last IS (Daesh) stronghold in northern Iraq, the Golden Division are reported to have retaken six districts. They've had the same training that the US Army Rangers get, and American general Mick Bednarek has described them as the "lead sled dog" in the fight to liberate Iraq.

The official name of the unit is the 1st Commando Battalion, which is part of the 1st Special Operations Brigade of the Iraqi armed forces.

Members are now dug in on the outskirts of the city as the rest of the country's armed forces attempt to push IS forces out for good, after years of occupation. They captured a former state TV station on Monday, in the city's eastern Gogjali district.

The Iraq government and allied Kurdish forces kicked off a major new offensive in an effort to recapture the city last month. News reports from the past few days claim that more than 480 IS militants have been killed in recent fighting.

Ahmed Majid, one of the commandos, reportedly told local media: "We expect the fighting to get more intense as we enter the city. Daesh doesn't have enough men, so they defend with suicide trucks and roadside bombs."

The unit has a certain celebrity status too, helped by their branding. In fact, their Facebook page currently lists more than two million fans. Considering that coalition military intelligence believes it could take months to truly defeat IS and drive them out of Mosul, this likely isn't the last we've heard of the Golden Division.

Golden Division
Elite commandos from Iraq's Golden division Sabah Arar/Getty Images