MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on the Iraqi offensive to retake Mosul (all times local):
The Iraqi military says its forces have retaken the town of Nimrud, some 19 miles (30 kilometers) from Mosul, in their push to drive Islamic State militants from the country.
The Commander of the Mosul Operation, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Raheed Yar Allah, says the troops took the town after heavy fighting.
He says in a statement that "the 9th division of the Iraqi army has liberated the town of Nimrud completely and raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings after the enemy suffered heavy casualties."
The town is near the famed ruins of an ancient Assyrian capital that dates back to the 9th century B.C. The Iraqi government said last year that the militants destroyed the site using heavy military vehicles. It was not immediately clear if Iraqi forces had retaken the archaeological site.
Iraqi forces trying to advance further into Mosul are battling waves of car bombs sent by the Islamic State group.
Iraqi special forces Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi said Sunday that "there are so many civilian cars and any one of them could be a bomb."
Iraqi forces say they have cleared the neighborhoods of Qadisiya and Zahra and are now planning to move deeper into the city. They are building sand berms and road blocks to prevent car bombs from breaching the front lines.
Iraqi forces pushed into Mosul earlier this month but have struggled to advance in the face of heavy resistance from militants in neighborhoods still populated by civilians.
Human Rights Watch is accusing the security forces of Iraq's regional Kurdish government of destroying Arab homes and even some villages in areas retaken from the Islamic State group.
The Sunday report says that between September 2014 and May 2016, Kurdish forces advancing against IS destroyed Arab homes in disputed areas of Kirkuk and Nineveh governorates, while Kurdish homes were left intact.
It says the demolitions took place in disputed areas seized from IS by Kurdish forces known as peshmerga. The Kurds say the areas are historically Kurdish and that they intend to incorporate them into the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
All sides fighting in the battle for the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest, are accused of committing human rights abuses, with the worst allegations focusing on IS.