Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who previously pledged to retake Mosul by the end of the year, said this week it would take another three months to rout Islamic State in Iraq.

A video uploaded by Islamic State-affiliated Amaq News Agency on Thursday (December 29) purports to show dead bodies after an air strike on a hospital by the US -led coalition near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Iraqi forces are now fighting to retake Mosul, the militants' last major stronghold in Iraq, where many Yazidis were held.

The strike comes more than two months after Iraqi operations to free Mosul began.

State TV said Islamic State defences were collapsing in the areas of Salam, Intisar, Wahda, Palestine and al-Quds and that fighters' bodies filled the streets there.

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The coalition, it added, "takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and this incident will be fully investigated and the findings released in a timely and transparent manner".

According to Reuters, more than 5,000 soldiers and federal police troops, redeployed from Mosul's southern outskirts, entered half a dozen southeastern districts, while counter-terrorism forces advanced in al-Quds and Karama districts after reinforcements arrived. But regular army troops on the city's southeast and northern edges, as well as militarized federal police farther west, have not moved in weeks, unable to penetrate the city.

An officer in the federal police forces, which joined the battle on Thursday, told Reuters there were heavy clashes in the southeastern Palestine district, but they had made progress in two other neighborhoods, disabling a number of auto bombs. Despite liberating almost 40 neighborhoods in Mosul, the operation to retake the city has been slower than expected with the Iraqi army still struggling to enter the more densely populated central parts of the city.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures.

Information for this article was contributed by Hamza Hendawi and Murtada Faraj of The Associated Press; and by Mustafa Salim, Loveday Morris and Paul Schemm of The Washington Post.


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