U.S. troops fought insurgents on the streets of Iraq’s third-largest city on Monday, where violence has surged during a week-long offensive to capture the city of Fallujah from rebels.
Isolated pockets of fighting occurred mainly in the west and southwest of Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.
Two U.S. soldiers were wounded in a car bomb attack on a convoy on the highway leading west from the city of two million.
“I expect the next few days will bring some hard fighting,” U.S. northern commander Brigadier General Carter Ham said in a statement. “The situation in Mosul is tense, but certainly not desperate.”
Rebels captured several police stations last week and some police stripped off their uniforms to join the insurgents. U.S. troops fought for two hours to retake one station on Sunday.
Most stations had been recaptured and many police had returned to duty, Ham said.
“There are a few stations which remain vacant -- generally those which were heavily looted or burned,” he said.
“Multinational forces and Iraqi forces patrol to ensure insurgents do not occupy these few stations. No stations are occupied or controlled by insurgents. I expect sufficient police will be on hand in a few days to control all the stations.”
U.S. and Iraqi troops had raided rebel hideouts and “had some success,” he said, but gave no details.
Violence flared in Mosul after 10,000 U.S. and 2,000 Iraqi troops stormed Fallujah, 32 miles west of the capital, last Monday to recapture the city from rebel control.
Iraq’s interim government and its U.S. backers said Fallujah was the epicenter of the insurgency in Iraq, from where most of the bombings, killings and kidnappings that have swept the country were masterminded.
But they also said many insurgents, including rebel leaders, fled the city before the offensive, which the U.S. military says has killed more than 1,000 guerrillas and 38 U.S. soldiers.