A long-awaited offensive to seize back Mosul after two years of Isis control has begun with columns of armour and military starting to move on the Northern Iraqi city, The Guardian reported.
The start of the offensive, which has been months in the planning, was announced in an address on state television by Iraq’s prime minister in the early hours of Monday morning.
Haider al-Abadi said: “We have been battling Isis for more than two years. We started fighting Isis in the outskirts of Baghdad, and thank God we are now fighting them in the outskirts of Mosul, and God willing the decisive battle will be soon.”
“These forces that are liberating you today, they have one goal in Mosul which is to get rid of Daesh and to secure your dignity. They are there for your sake,” he said.
After a month-long buildup, the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq has for several days been almost completely surrounded by a 30,000-strong force.
This morning just before dawn, columns of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters could be seen lined up for the offensive to the North east of the city.
South of the city Iraqi forces, which had driven hundreds of miles for what Baghdad has hailed as a last battle against the terrorist group, moved into their final positions on Friday.
Also on the ground are US, British and French special forces, which have been advising the peshmerga and will play a prominent role in calling in airstrikes against Isis targets inside the city.
Pehmerga forces are aiming to take three villages and advance up to 12kms on the first day of the offensive but insist they will not enter Mosul itself.
Isis is believed to have heavily mined the roads leading into its territory with large numbers of improvised devices and the Iraqi government has previously warned Mosul resident to stay in their homes.