Battle for Mosul: Iraqi forces launch assault on Islamic State stronghold
00:30, Oct 18, 2016
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- ISIL media wing releases a video showing their fighters blowing up an Iraqi tank near the al-Qayyarah roundabout in south Mosul.
Using Mosul as a base, the jihadi group swept further south through Iraq's towns and cities, but government soldiers trained by USA forces have since gained ground and Mosul is now the last city in the country held by IS.
Iraqi special forces soldiers deployed for an offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants prepare to move out from a camp near Khazer, Iraq, on October 14, 2016.
Kurdish forces are stationed to the north and east of Mosul, a mostly Sunni city that has always been a center of insurgent activity and anti-central government sentiment after the USA -led invasion of Iraq in 2003. To the east of the city, Iraqi forces are camped out in abandoned homes.
Even as the Iraqi Army and the Pershmerga forces are charging ahead to retake Mosul, the locals are doing their part to liberate the region from the clutches of Isis.
Iraqi forces have been massing around the city in recent days.
"Very soon, we will be with you to raise the flag of Iraq in the middle of Mosul, and in towns and villages as well", Abadi said, calling on the people of Mosul to cooperate with security forces to defeat the IS. Iraq has repeatedly called for the Turkish forces to withdraw, claiming they entered the country without the permission of the central government.
"This may prove to be a long and tough battle, but the Iraqis have prepared for it and we will stand by them".
The fight to retake Mosul was largely launched from the north and east.
The massive and complex military operation will be the largest in Iraq since American troops left in 2011 and, if successful, the biggest blow yet to ISIS.
For now the various forces are working together, but that could become more hard as they close in on the city, and it remains unclear exactly how Mosul will be governed once IS is gone. The special forces were trained for more than a decade by the United States and are now some of Iraq's most competent ground forces. They have already taken control of main roads leading to Mosul and seven other villages.
The commander of the US -led coalition supporting Iraq's offenisve, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, said the operation to take Iraq's second largest city would likely continue for weeks, "possibly longer". Both in terms of geography and population, it's a much larger task than Iraq's military has ever undertaken previously in the fight against IS. Williams reports that ISIS has responded this morning with a suicide vehicle bomb, which moved through the area and was then eventually blown up by a USA coalition airstrike.
They are taking the fight to an estimated 3,000 IS fighters in the city, with snipers sent in first to fight street-by-street.
Early on Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi announced the start of the military operation to retake Mosul, the country's second largest city, from the Daesh militants, outlawed in Russian Federation and many other countries.
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Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi warned that such confrontation will surely lead to complications in the bid to free Mosul. The United States has said any foreign forces in Iraq should have the approval of the Baghdad government.
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