US-backed Iraqi forces have launched a large-scale military operation to dislodge Islamic State (IS) militants from the western half of Mosul city, which has been in the hands of extremists since 2014.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the operation on state TV, saying government forces were moving to “liberate the people of Mosul from Daesh oppression and terrorism forever,” using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Mr Al-Abadi called on security forces to deal with civilians properly and respect human rights.

US-led coalition jets struck militant positions southwest of Mosul early Sunday morning (local time) and militarised police fired artillery toward the city.

Heavily armed police units were getting ready to move north with their armoured vehicles from a base just southwest of the city.

“This is zero hour and we are going to end this war, God willing,” Mahmoud Mansour, a police officer, said as he prepared to move out.

A string of military vehicles drive along a desert road
Iraqi security forces advance towards the western side of Mosul. (Reuters)
The Commander of the US-led coalition forces, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, hailed the Iraqi forces in a statement as an “increasingly capable, formidable, and professional force”.

 

Read the whole story from Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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