Game over for ISIS chief? Iraqi Army surrounds Baghdadi inside Mosul

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In addition, the Iraqi aviation destroyed IS tunnels that connected the villages of Najmouk, Tal Yabis and Abbas, near Iraq's second largest city, which has been held by the terrorists since June 2014.

Civilians, who emerged cautiously from their homes, some carrying white flags, told tales of IS brutality. All the women were wearing the niqab, a veil that entirely covers the face or only has a small, slit-like opening for the eyes, and all the men had long beards. Largely operating in a power vacuum, the local forces have already been accused of abusing civilians fleeing IS-held territory.

Later, as the state television building was retaken, CTS commander Lt Gen Abdul Wahhab al-Saidi said most of the Kokjali residential distruct had been cleared.

"Daesh is fighting back and have set up concrete blast walls to block off the Karama neighborhood and our troops' advance", al-Aridi said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. Fadhil said special forces had detained three suspected IS militants in the area.

The advance from the east was a breakthrough in efforts during a span of more than two weeks to reclaim Mosul from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

"This isn't something where you can say, 'if we move slowly, airpower and artillery power are going to deal with the issues, ' because it also gives ISIS time to consolidate", said Anthony Cordesman, a former adviser to the USA -led training effort of Iraqi forces and now a security analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Emad Hassan, 33, a former policeman, said he had come to Bazwaya when the operation started in order to flee the IS fighters.

Mosul is the last major IS stronghold in Iraq, and driving the militant group from the city would be a major blow to the survival of its self-declared "caliphate" that stretches into Syria.

Later, al-Aridi said the troops had taken the nearby state television building, the only one in the province, and that heavy fighting broke out when they tried to continue further in to built-up areas.

The United Nations said it has received reports that IS has executed almost 300 people in the Mosul area since October 25, and also seized tens of thousands of people for use as human shields.

The International Organisation for Migration said that almost 18,000 people have been displaced since the start of the campaign on October 17, excluding thousands of villagers who were forced back into Mosul by retreating jihadists who used them as human shields.

Its Iraq chief, Wolfgang Gressmann, said the agency's aid workers were "bracing. for the worst".

Other forces that have participated in the approach - the Kurdish peshmerga fighting to the north, and Shiite militias in the west - are being kept away because their presence in Mosul would probably alienate the city's Sunni population.

Most victims among the takfirists (Sunnite Islamic terrorists) were killed by air raids by the US -led worldwide coalition that supports the army and forces from the Counter-Terrorist Service (CTS).

On Tuesday, Turkey's defense minister said his country was making preparations for "all kinds of possibilities" as the Turkish military began deploying tanks and other vehicles to the border town of Silopi.

He attempted to stir up sectarian resentment by referring to religious flags and slogans of Shiite fighters among the Iraqi forces and by accusing the country's Sunni politicians of treason. "We went through hell", his mother said. "We will investigate to determine what happened with this incident".

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions, he described how his family in Mosul are feeling: They are so happy they forgot to be afraid.