Iraqi and Kurdish forces advance on IS stronghold of Mosul

Kurdish peshmarga forces

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi forces backed by Kurdish forces advanced Monday in an offensive aimed at retaking Mosul and dealing a death blow to the Islamic State group’s “caliphate” in the city where it was declared two years ago.

The start of the long-awaited assault raised deep concerns for hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in Iraq’s second-largest city, with aid groups warning of a massive humanitarian crisis.

Some 30,000 federal forces are leading the offensive, backed by air and ground support from 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 readied weapons and ammunition as columns of armoured vehicles headed towards Mosul from the town of Al-Shura, some 45 kilometres (30 miles) south of the city.

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