JAYVEE: Tough resistance from Islamic State slows Iraqi advance on Mosul.

The front lines were largely quiet after fierce fighting as Kurdish forces pushed to retake a string of villages on the edge of their territory and turn them into new footholds closer to Mosul. The city is the last main stronghold for the Islamic State in Iraq and represents a critical showdown for both sides.

However, the Iraqi military made some gains. The army’s 9th Division broke into the district of Hamdaniya, also on the eastern front, closing in on the Christian town of Qaraqosh, commanders said.

The intense fight for hamlets some 30 miles from the city suggested that the militants could fight for every inch outside the city, but also that they are unlikely to be able to hold on in the face of a coordinated advance and close air support from a U.S.-led coalition.

Residents who have recently fled the area and Iraqi officials with contacts inside Mosul say the Islamic State has been digging in for a fight, erecting concrete barricades and filling trenches full of oil that can be set on fire to slow advancing forces. The Islamic State claimed to have carried out 12 suicide attacks on the first day of the offensive, according to its affiliated news agency, Amaq.

The fight for Mosul is going to get uglier, but the eventual “peace” between Kurdish, Turkish, and Iraqi forces could prove uglier still.