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Iraqi forces deploy in the area of al-Shourah, some 45 kms south of Mosul, as they advance towards the city to retake it from the IS group, on October 17.
Iraqi forces deploy in the area of al-Shourah, some 45 kms south of Mosul, as they advance towards the city to retake it from the IS group, on October 17.

Mosul Offensive Begins

The Mosul offensive is one of the biggest military operations in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein

Mosul Offensive Begins

Iraqi government forces, with air and ground support from the US-led coalition, launched an offensive on Monday to drive the self-styled Islamic State terrorists from the northern city of Mosul, the militants’ last major stronghold in the country.
Helicopters released flares overhead and explosions could be heard on the city’s eastern front, where Kurdish fighters moved forward to take outlying villages, Reuters reported.
The United States predicted IS would suffer “a lasting defeat” as Iraqi forces mounted their biggest operation since the US withdrew its own troops in 2011.
Some 30,000 Iraqi soliders, Kurdish Peshmerga militia and Sunni tribal fighters were expected to take part in the offensive to drive an estimated 4,000 to 8,000 IS militants from Mosul, a city of 1.5 million people.
“I announce today the start of the heroic operations to free you from the terror and the oppression of Daesh,” Prime Minister Haider Abadi said in a speech on state TV, using an Arabic acronym for IS. “We will meet soon on the ground of Mosul to celebrate liberation and your salvation,” he said, surrounded by the armed forces’ top commanders.
Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television aired video of what it said was a bombardment of Mosul that started after Abadi’s speech, showing rockets and bursts of tracer bullets across the night sky and loud sounds of gunfire.
“This operation to regain control of Iraq’s second-largest city will likely continue for weeks, possibly longer,” said the commander of the coalition, US Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, in a statement.
The Mosul offensive is one of the biggest military operations in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
“This is a decisive moment in the campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement, using an acronym for IS.
“We are confident our Iraqi partners will prevail against our common enemy and free Mosul and the rest of Iraq from ISIL’s hatred and brutality.”
In 2014, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed from Mosul’s Grand Mosque a “caliphate” in Iraq and neighboring Syria. If Mosul falls, Raqqa in Syria will be IS’s last city stronghold.
IS has been retreating since the end of last year in Iraq, where it is battling US-backed government and Kurdish forces as well as Iraqi Shia militias.
In its first statement on the Mosul operations, the Iraqi Army media office said the advancing troops destroyed a number of IS defense lines. Strikes carried out by the Iraqi and coalition jets hit an unspecified number of the militants’ positions, it said.
A column of black smoke was rising from one of the insurgents’ positions on the eastern front and seemed to be from burning oil being used to block the path of the Kurds and obstruct the jets’ view.
“We are the real Muslims, Daesh are not Muslims, no religion does what they did,” said a young Kurdish fighter in battle dress as he scanned the plain east of Mosul from his position on the heights of Mount Zertik.
Early on Monday, Abadi sought to allay fears that the operation would provoke sectarian bloodletting, saying that only the Iraqi Army and police would be allowed to enter the mainly Sunni city. He asked Mosul’s residents to cooperate with them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday he hoped the United States and its allies would do their best to avoid civilian casualties in an attack on Mosul.
The United Nations last week said it was bracing for the world’s biggest and most complex humanitarian effort in the battle for the city, which could make up to 1 million people homeless and see civilians used as human shields or even gassed.
There are already more than 3 million people displaced in Iraq as a result of conflicts involving IS. Medicine is in short supply in Mosul and food prices have risen sharply.

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