— It was the dead of night when Iraqi commandos advanced into the neighborhood deep in eastern Mosul.

Dozens of the black-clad soldiers waded across a small river that separated them from Islamic State positions. Night vision goggles cast the terrain in front of them in a green glow.

On the other side, they fought house to house, helping the engineering teams make space for the main attack force. The Humvees then rolled through.

In recent weeks, the number of advisers from the U.S.-led coalition assisting them has also increased, and airstrikes used to disrupt deadly car bombs have intensified.

Although Islamic State snipers took potshots at passing Humvees a day after Muthanna was retaken, the battle here was largely over in a matter of hours. Iraqi forces also have quickly advanced in other neighborhoods nearby, seizing the university and key government buildings and reaching the Tigris River, which carves the city in two.


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