Iraq Army begins offensive to liberate Mosul
Iraqi troops and allied militia have launched what is expected to be a long offensive to retake the second city of Mosul, the army said on Thursday. The city is the main hub of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq. The army and the Popular Mobilization paramilitary force “have begun the first phase of conquest operations” in the northern Nineveh province, with the capital Mosul, Iraq’s joint operations command said. Four villages had been reportedly taken between the town of Qayyarah, which is still held by IS, and Makhmur, where US-backed Iraqi forces have been massing in recent weeks. Iraqi forces still look far from being in a position to take the city itself, AFP said.