Iraq army starts operation to recapture Mosul from ISIL

The Iraqi military on Thursday said it started the operation to recapture the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State.

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was captured by the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, in June 2014.

A military statement read on state TV Thursday said: "The first phase of the Fatah (Conquest) Operation has been launched at dawn to liberate Nineveh (in Mosul), raising the Iraqi flag in several villages."

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Military Command, said soldiers retook several villages on the outskirts of the town of Makhmour, east of Mosul, on Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported.

He said the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL was providing air support.

ISIL has taken over vast swaths of Iraq and neighboring Syria. Mosul, with a population of around 2 million, is the largest city in ISIL’s self-declared caliphate, or Islamic state.