Baku, October 17, AZERTAC
Iraqi forces launched an offensive Monday to retake Mosul and deal a death blow to the Islamic State group's "caliphate" in the northern city where it was declared two years ago, according to Yahoo.
Some 30,000 federal forces are leading the offensive, backed by a 60-nation US-led coalition, in what is expected to be a long and difficult assault on IS's last major Iraqi stronghold.
Iraqi forces could be seen readying weapons and ammunitions as columns of armored vehicles headed towards Mosul from the town of Al-Shura, some 45 kilometers (30 miles) south of the city, an AFP photographer said.
The Pentagon described the long-awaited operation as a "decisive moment" in the fight against IS but the US-led coalition's top commander warned it could last weeks or more.
The beginning of the assault also saw aid groups voice fears for the hundreds of thousands of civilians remaining in the city, with IS expected to use them as human shields.
IS seized control of large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria in mid-2014, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" and committing widespread atrocities.