TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Residents began returning on Wednesday to the village of Sheikh Amir on the road to Mosul, recaptured overnight by advancing Iraqi troops in the early days of the biggest advance that has been launched against Daesh (ISIL or ISIS).

They found a village rigged with explosives and dug in with elaborate underground defenses, abandoned by the terrorists who have retreated closer to Mosul, 30 km (19 miles) to the west, Reuters reported.

Four days into the assault on Mosul, Iraqi army and Kurdish forces are steadily recovering outlying territory before the big push into the city itself, expected to be the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion of the Arab country.

Much of Sheikh Amir had been torn down, including the house of Abbas Ahmad Hussein, a 36-year-old resident who fled the village when the Takfiri terrorists captured it in 2014.

Another resident returned on Wednesday to survey the damage with a small truck to take out any salvageable items, but found nothing left to save amid the wreckage.

"I spent all my money to build this house and Daesh destroyed it," he said. "My brother, my uncle and my cousins live around here and they destroyed all their houses too."

Mosul, the last major stronghold of Daesh terrorists in Iraq, is five times the size of any other city the militant group has held. Recapturing it would be a decisive blow to its self-declared caliphate.