Reuters: Iraq launches Mosul offensive to drive out Islamic State
Iraqi government forces launched a U.S.-backed offensive on Monday to drive Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, a high-stakes battle to retake the militants' last major stronghold in the country.
Two years after the jihadists seized the city of 1.5 million people and declared a caliphate from there encompassing tracts of Iraq and Syria, a force of some 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Sunni tribal fighters began to advance.
Helicopters released flares and explosions could be heard on the city's eastern front, where Reuters watched Kurdish fighters move forward to take outlying villages.
A U.S.-led air campaign has helped drive Islamic State from much of the territory it held but 4,000 to 8,000 fighters are thought to remain in Mosul.
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