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The front lines of Mosul were eerily quiet Tuesday, like the in the eye of a sand storm

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep watch over territory held by the Islamic State on the eastern approaches to Mosul, Iraq, on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. The US-led coalition is increasing airstrikes in and around the militant-held city of Mosul as Iraqi ground forces build up ahead of a planned operation to retake the city, it said in a statement Friday. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)

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Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep watch over territory held by the Islamic State on the eastern approaches to Mosul, Iraq, on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. The US-led coalition is increasing airstrikes in and around the militant-held city of Mosul as Iraqi ground forces build up ahead of a planned operation to retake the city, it said in a statement Friday. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck)

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The front lines to the east of Mosul were largely eerily quiet even though international news observers following the building tension of the conflict in Mosul. Iraqi and Kurdish commanders  paused the fighting Tuesday a day after the coalition advanced on Mosul in the middle of a barrage of air-strikes and heavy artillery.

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This comes one day after the start of a massive operation to retake the Islamic State-held city. This siege is expected to take several weeks, if not months.

“We are just holding our positions,” said Col. Khathar Sheikhan, of the Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga, which captured a handful of villages east of Mosul on Monday. “The Iraqi army will now advance past our arenas of control.”

But an Iraqi special forces commander said his troops have delayed an advance following a request from Kurdish forces for more time to achieve their goals.

This photo released on his official Facebook page shows Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, center, surrounded by top military and police officers as he announces the start of the operation to liberate the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants early Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The push to retake Mosul will be the biggest military operation in Iraq since American troops left in 2011 and, if successful, the strongest blow yet to the Islamic State. (Iraq Prime Minister's office via AP)

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This photo released on his official Facebook page shows Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, center, surrounded by top military and police officers as he announces the start of the operation to liberate the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants early Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The push to retake Mosul will be the biggest military operation in Iraq since American troops left in 2011 and, if successful, the strongest blow yet to the Islamic State. (Iraq Prime Minister’s office via AP)

said his men had planned to move at dawn, but postponed the operation. He said Iraqi army and Kurdish commanders would meet later Tuesday to discuss further planning.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had announced the long-awaited offensive before dawn Monday, vowing to liberate the city from more than two years of extremist rule. Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city and the IS group’s last major urban bastion in the country.

The large and complex battle for Mosul is expected to last weeks or months. It will involve more than 25,000 troops, including the Iraqi army, the Kurdish peshmerga, Sunni tribal fighters and Shiite militias.

The United States Position

The U.S. military is providing air support and playing a supporting role on the ground.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand on top of a military vehicle as they advance towards villages surrounding Mosul, in Khazer, about 19 miles east of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand on top of a military vehicle as they advance towards villages surrounding Mosul, in Khazer, about 19 miles east of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said the operation was proceeding as planned and that Iraqi forces were making “excellent progress.” “There’s no pause in efforts to liberate Mosul. Troops are on the move on various axes of advance toward the city,” said Col. John Dorrian.

“Some commanders have reached their objectives ahead of schedule after encountering light-to-moderate resistance.” The Iraqi Army’s 9th Division meanwhile reached the outskirts of the town of al-Hamdaniyah, south of Mosul, but stopped advancing because of snipers and suicide bombers, according to a military officer.

The U.S. has employed the HIMARS rocket artillery system from the Qayyarah Airfield area, the offensive’s logistics hub about 40 miles southeast of Mosul, to aid the advance of the Iraqi columns pushing north, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

“We have the HIMARS” south of Mosul, and “the HIMARS is active,” Davis said at a Pentagon briefing.

AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships are also available for the Mosul offensive, but they have yet to be employed, Davis said. The U.S. is also using .155mm artillery from the general Qayyarah area to back the advance, he said.

The 101st Airborne Division which is based out of Tennessee had previously sling-lifted the .155s by helicopter to put them in a better firing position, but Davis declined to say whether that tactic was being employed to support the Mosul advance.

On Monday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford convened a meeting of more than 50 leaders from the anti-ISIS coalition at Joint Base Andrews on how to deal with “the second- and third-order effects” of ISIS’ defeat in Iraq and Syria, The Hill newspaper reported.

Carter’s first stop will be Turkey on Friday to discuss “a range of security challenges in the region, including the latest developments in Iraq and Syria,” the Pentagon said.

Iraq has repeatedly called on Turkey to withdraw its troops and close its training facility for tribal fighters at Bashiqa, north of Mosul. Turkey has offered to join the drive against the city, but Iraq has rejected the offer.

Carter will also visit the United Arab Emirates and next week will be in Paris and Brussels for NATO ministerial meetings.

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The front lines of Mosul were eerily quiet Tuesday, like the in the eye of a sand storm