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General: Up to 900 ISIS fighters killed in battle for Mosul

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Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani (C) and Shiite Muslim leader Ammar al-Hakim (2ndR), the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), arrive to give a joint press conference on October 27, 2016 on the top of Mount Zardak, where Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters hold a position during an operation against Islamic State (IS) group jihadists to retake the main hub of Mosul, located some 25 kilometres from Mount Zardak. Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters are pushing toward Mosul along several axes and have made relatively quick progress as they approach Mosul, Iraq's second city. / AFP / SAFIN HAMED (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

The US and its allies have killed between 800 and 900 ISIS fighters in the operation to retake Mosul, US Army Gen. Joseph Votel said Thursday.

US military officials estimate that there are 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters defending the last major stronghold of the terror group in Iraq, and an additional 1,500 to 2,000 ISIS soldiers in a zone outside the city.

Votel is the head of US Central Command and is assisting the Iraqis in the fight for Mosul. A coalition of about 100,000 forces began the operation 10 days ago, and have been slowly gaining ground toward the city, liberating villages from ISIS rule along the way.

Clashes with ISIS fighters are expected to intensify the closer in troops get, and in Mosul itself bloody street-to-street skirmishes are expected, CNN has reported. ISIS is now sending “suicide squads” to Mosul from its symbolic capital of Raqqa in Syria, which the US and coalition forces also plan to try to capture soon.

The Mosul offensive has attracted attention on the presidential campaign trail, with Republican nominee Donald Trump repeatedly attacking the Pentagon for publicly discussing the operation before it started. He repeated the charge again in an interview aired on Thursday.

“I’ve been hearing about Mosul now for three months,” Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “‘We’re going to attack. We’re going to attack.’ Meaning Iraq’s going to attack but with us, OK? We’re going to attack. Why do they have to talk about it?”

Trump also criticized former Army War College dean Jeff McCausland after the military expert said the candidate lacks a firm grasp of military strategy.

“You can tell your military expert that I’ll sit down, and I’ll teach him a couple of things,” Trump said.