MOSUL, Iraq — Explosions and gunfire rattled parts of eastern Mosul and Islamic State militants fired mortars from apartment windows Tuesday as Iraqi special forces waged fierce urban combat in the second-largest city.

Hundreds of civilians filled the streets clamoring for food and cigarettes in recently retaken neighborhoods where supplies were running low. Some of the troops handed over their own rations.

Iraqi forces say they have largely cleared the neighborhoods of Zahra and Qadisiya in eastern Mosul after pushing into the area Nov. 4. The operation to retake the militant-held city began Oct. 17 and troops made swift progress before their advances slowed once they pushed into more densely populated areas.

“This morning, we have like 1,000 people from the civilians, who escape from this area to safer area,” said Ali Tahseen, a special forces solider in eastern Mosul.

Mosul is still home to some 1 million civilians. Aid groups have warned of a humanitarian crisis if hundreds of thousands are forced from their homes during the military operation.

“This is a problem for us because the food we have is not enough for them and we’re waiting for more food to be sent from the government,” said Maj. Salam al-Obeidi.

Residents gathered on the streets to exchange news. A line grew outside a shop selling cigarettes now that extremist smoking bans were gone.