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'A lasting defeat': Iraqi forces begin battle to drive ISIS from Mosul

A member from western forces stands with his weapon in the east of Mosul, Iraq, October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Iraqi government forces, with air and ground support from the U.S.-led coalition, launched an offensive on Monday to drive the Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, the militants' last major stronghold in the country. Helicopters released flares overhead and explosions could be heard on the city's eastern front, where Kurdish fighters moved forward to take outlying villages. In Washington, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called the launch of the Mosul operation "a decisive moment in the campaign" to defeat ISIS.

I announce today the start of the heroic operations to free you from the terror and the oppression of [ISIS].

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi

The United States predicted that Islamic State would suffer "a lasting defeat" as Iraqi forces mounted their biggest operation since the U.S. withdrew its own troops in 2011. The offensive is one of the biggest military operations in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Mosul fell to ISIS fighters two years ago as they marched through Iraq and Syria, where the civil war left a power vacuum that they easily exploited. Its recapture would shatter the group's claim to be running a "caliphate" and would all but end its presence in Iraq as a land-holding force.

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Iraq begins operations to drive out ISIS from Mosul

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Operations to retake Mosul

Some 30,000 Iraqi soliders, Kurdish Peshmerga militia and Sunni tribal fighters were expected to take part in the offensive to drive an estimated 4,000 to 8,000 Islamic State militants from Mosul, a city of 1.5 million people.

Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, has been under IS rule for more than two years and is still home to more than a million civilians according to U.N. estimates.

Fall of Mosul

The Fall of Mosul occurred between 410 June 2014, when Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL) insurgents, led by Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, defeated the Iraqi army, led by Lieutenant General Mahdi Gharawi.In January 2014, ISIL took control of Fallujah and Ramadi, inciting conflict with the Iraqi army.

Saddam Hussein

The international community, especially the U.S., continued to view Saddam as a bellicose tyrant who was a threat to the stability of the region. After the September 11 attacks, Vladimir Putin began to tell the United States that Iraq was preparing terrorist attacks against the United States.

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How the Islamic State became a major world threat

The Islamic State is a terror group that in just a few short years has overshadowed Al-Qaeda and become a major threat to the world.
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