The Latest: Iraqi, Kurdish forces move east, south of Mosul
IRBIL, Iraq – The Latest on the Iraqi operation to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):
Iraq's military and the country's Kurdish forces are on the move to the south and east of the Islamic State group-held city of Mosul.
The early Monday morning development follows Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's announcement that the long-awaited fight to retake Mosul has begun.
Convoys of Iraqi, Kurdish and U.S. forces could be seen moving east of Mosul into the early hours of Monday. Along the front line, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes sent plumes of smokes into the air and heavy artillery rounds could be heard.
Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, has been under IS rule for more than two years and still home to more than a million civilians according to estimates from the United Nations. The fight is expected to be the most complex yet for Iraq's military.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced the start of operations to liberate the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.
State TV showed a brief written statement in the early hours on Monday announcing the start of the widely anticipated military offensive to drive IS out of Iraq's second largest city.
The push to retake Mosul will be the biggest military operation in Iraq since American troops left in 2011 and, if successful, the strongest blow yet to the Islamic State group, known also by its Arabic language acronym, Daesh.
Broadcasts showed the prime minister, dressed in the uniform of the elite counterterrorism forces, speaking while flanked by senior military officers.
Al-Abadi addressed the people of Mosul, saying that "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."