The battle to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul – the capital of ISIL’s so-called caliphate – has begun.
The long awaited assault is being carried out by Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi government and allied forces backed by a US-led coalition.
“I announce today the start of this heroic operation to seek the liberation from the oppression and terror Daesh. We will meet soon in Mosul to celebrate its salvation. The main troops which are participating in this operation are the Iraqi army and police forces and only they will enter the city of Mosul to liberate it”, said Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abaidi.
Mosul is ISIL’s last major stronghold in Iraq. It’s been under the jihadists control since June 2014.
Shortly before the assault the Iraqi army dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mosul warning residents of the imminent offensive, assuring them the advancing army units would not target civilians.
However the UN has warned that the humanitarian impact could be “enormous”, and affect up to 1.2 million people.