Iraqi general says 70 per cent of east Mosul retaken from Islamic State

Iraqi forces have retaken around 70 per cent of eastern Mosul from Islamic State militants and expect to reach the river bisecting the city in the coming days, Iraq's joint operations commander told Reuters.

MOSUL - Gunfire echoes over the recently recaptured eastern Mosul district Iraqi forces pushing ahead with efforts to retake the city from Islamic State - despite fierce resistance.

The joint operations commander telling Reuters they expect to reach the river bisecting the city in the coming days. 

"After concluding the first phase in the eastern front of Mosul, we have cleared many areas and neighbourhoods of the city. Roughly 65-70 per cent of the eastern side has been liberated, and more than 70 per cent of these neighbourhoods have been cleared," said Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, joint operations commander and head of the counter terrorism service.

He says the cooperation of residents was helping them advance against the militants. 

The offensive, now in its 12th week, has gained momentum since Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition renewed their push for the city a week ago. 

The head of the coalition says the various Iraqi forces are also now working as more of a team. 

Iraqi commanders decided two weeks ago that all the different pro-government forces needed to coordinate much more closely. 

"For about two months, they ran for the most part a huddle-less offence, and what we saw is that there wasn't enough synchronisation between each of the different attacking axes and forces. The Iraqis also noted this and so that was sort of the big change after the commanders' conference. Right before Christmas was a decision to huddle a lot more frequently," said Lieutenant General Steve Townsend, commander of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State. 

The military predicting they'll see a full liberation of the eastern side in the coming days. The western half of the city remains under the control of Islamic State. 

They're fighting back with snipers and suicide car bombs, and embedding themselves among civilians caught in the crossfire.