BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Iraq (all times local):
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested that Turkey's military could pursue Kurdish rebels across the border into northern Iraq's Sinjar region.
In a speech delivered on Thursday, Erdogan said the Sinjar region is fast becoming a base for the leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, similar to northern Iraq's Qandil Mountains where the group's commanders long maintained their headquarters.
Turkey's air force regularly carries out raids against PKK targets in northern Iraq, especially in Qandil.
Erdogan said: "We will maintain this struggle in Sinjar. Why? Because Sinjar is becoming a new Qandil. ... We cannot permit Sinjar, because the PKK is there."
Violence between the Turkish security forces and the PKK flared last year following the collapse of a fragile peace process.
Iraq's special forces say they have completed their objectives east of Mosul and are waiting on other forces to advance before pushing closer to the Islamic State-held city.
Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil said Thursday that his forces were waiting for other fighting units to push up from the south in order to further isolate Mosul before they enter the city. He says "the operation has not been stopped and is proceeding as planned."
Iraqi forces have been battling IS militants around the town of Shura, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Mosul, in recent days. Iraqi officials have said the offensive is proceeding according to plan and that some operations are ahead of schedule.
The push to retake Iraq's second largest city from the militants, which began on Oct. 17, is the largest operation launched by Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The U.N.'s public health agency says it has trained 90 Iraqi medics in "mass casualty management" as part of its preparations for the Mosul offensive, with a special focus on responding to chemical attacks.
The Islamic State group, which has ruled Iraq's second largest city for more than two years, is believed to have crude chemical weapon capabilities.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that of the 700,000 people expected to flee Mosul, some 200,000 will require emergency health services, including more than 90,000 children needing vaccinations and 8,000 pregnant women.
The operation to retake Mosul began Oct. 17 and is expected to take weeks, if not months. The International Organization for Migration says around 9,000 people have fled. The fighting has not yet reached the city itself, which is home to more than a million people.
The United Nations' refugee agency is shipping tents, blankets and other aid from the United Arab Emirates to northern Iraq to help those affected by the military campaign to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group.
The UNHCR shipment, leaving Dubai's International Humanitarian City on Thursday, is expected to reach those affected as soon as Friday.
Soliman Mohamed Daud, a senior UNHCR supply officer, told The Associated Press that 7,000 units of the relief aid will be sent to northern Iraq. The UAE shipment leaving Thursday includes some 1,500 kits.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by U.S. advisers and airstrikes, began the operation to retake Iraq's second-largest city earlier this month.
Aid groups fear that a mass exodus from Mosul could overwhelm camps set up around its outskirts.