More American troops may be sent to Syria - US commander

US-backed Iraqi forces have fought fierce battles with Islamic State fighters as they try to retake control of Mosul's main airport from IS.

The mission to re-take al-Bab was part of Ankara's ongoing operations in northern Syria under Euphrates Shield, aimed at supporting Syrian rebel groups fight the Islamic State in northern Syria and across the Turkish-Syrian border. Iraqi government forces this week took a strategic southern hilltop area overlooking the Mosul city airport.

Closely supported by the US -led worldwide coalition, Iraqi forces secured a series of cautious advances on Thursday, pushing into a sprawling military base outside of Mosul and onto the grounds of the city's airport, where they took control of the runway.

The commander of Iraqi Nineveh operations, Major General Najim al-Jubouri told EFE that at least 17 IS militants were killed in the first hours of fighting, during which the global coalition aviation launched 50 bombings.

40 percent of those trapped in the western part of Mosul have access to clean drinking water, according to NBC News.

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Rasool said heavy clashes were underway inside the base.

The streets are older and narrower in the western section of the city, stretching west from the Tigris River that divides Mosul into the eastern and western half. "The counterterrorism forces will be an additional force, which will expedite the liberation of Mosul's western side", Rasool told the AP. Raqqa is its capital in Syria.

Also on Thursday, another counterterrorism unit captured a key village southwest of Mosul from where Islamic State group snipers and shelling had been slowing the government offensive, Rasool said. Of those, more than 1,000 have been killed, according to Iraqi estimates. The militants are in charge of the road that links Mosul to Tal Afar, a town they control 60 km (40 miles) to the west.

Asked by CBS News if further USA troops would be dispatched to Syria, Votel said, "Perhaps", stressing that he was "very concerned about maintaining momentum". "The humanitarian operation is already stretched".

"We want to bring the right capabilities forward", he said.