The long-expected battle to seize back Mosul after more than two years of ISIS control has begun with military units moving on the northern part of the Iraqi city.
After months of planning, 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops have surrounded the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq for several days, giving a start to the most critical assault against the caliphate. US, British and French special forces are also taking part in the offensive and will play a significant role, especially in airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Mosul.
Since ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate in June 2014, Mosul has been central to the group’s objectives. It is believed that they have about 6,000 fighters ready to defend the city, hidden among approximately 600,000 civilians.
Triumph over ISIS seems to be likely. However there are great concerns about the terrible effects this decisive offensive may have on the civilians: International humanitarian agencies are preparing themselves for the aftermath of this battle.