Iraq begins offensive to retake IS-held Mosul

Iraqi security forces and Popular Mobilisation units, pictured in the Makhoul mountains during a military operation against Islamic State (IS) fighters in October 2015The Iraqi army said Thursday its troops and allied militia had launched what is expected to be a long and difficult offensive to retake the second city of Mosul, the Islamic State group’s main hub in Iraq. The army and the Popular Mobilisation paramilitary force “have begun the first phase of conquest operations” in the northern Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, Iraq’s joint operations command said in a statement. It said four villages had been 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.

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