Iraqis push toward IS-held Mosul in gradual offensive
The long-awaited offensive to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group began Monday with a volley of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and heavy artillery bombardments on a cluster of villages along the edge of Iraq’s historic Nineveh plain east of the militant-held city.
Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga fighters led the initial assault, advancing slowly across open fields littered with booby-trapped explosives as plumes of black and orange smoke rose overhead — the opening phase of an unprecedented campaign expected to take weeks if not months, and involve more than 25,000 troops.
By the end of the day Kurdish forces had retaken some 80 square miles, according to the president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Peshmerga commanders on the ground estimated the offensive retook nine villages and pushed the frontline with IS back five miles.