US and French bomb Isis terror targets to take Mosul

In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 file photo, Iraqi soldiers in convoy of Iraqi military vehicles heads toward Qayyarah base in northern Iraq, ahead of an expected offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants.
In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 file photo, Iraqi soldiers in convoy of Iraqi military vehicles heads toward Qayyarah base in northern Iraq, ahead of an expected offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants. AP Photo/Adam Schreck

The battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from Isis has begun, Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, has said.

Mosul, which is regarded as Isis' "second city", is the last major stronghold of the jihadist group in Iraq.

It has been under the group's control since June 2014, but the Iraqi offensive to retake the city has been planned for months.

In an address on state television, Mr Abadi said: "The time of victory has come and operations to liberate Mosul have started."

"Today I declare the start of these victorious operations to free you from the violence and terrorism of Daesh," he said, using another term for the jihadist group.

US and French forces had already begun bombing Isis targets in Mosul ahead of the offensive.

Isis fighters are said to be dug in and preparing to battle hard to maintain control, Reuters reported.

Ahead of the battle, the Iraqi army dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mosul urging residents to hide before the offensive begins.

The leaflets carried several messages to the citizens of the city in northern Iraq attempting to reassure them that the advancing army "would not target civilians" but warned them to avoid the known locations of Isis militants.

"Keep calm and tell your children that it is only a game or thunder before the rain," a leaflet said. "Women should not scream or shout, to preserve the children's spirit."

"If you see an army unit, stay at least 25 metres away and avoid any sudden movements," another said.

They have previously forced civilians to remain where they are rather than flee during previous battles to maintain territory.

It comes just hours after they lost control of the symbolically important town of Dabiq in Syria to a group of rebels after a short battle.

The opposition fighters were able to retake the town with "minimal" resistance despite Isis prophecies that Dabiq was to be the scene of an apocalyptic final battle between Muslims and Christians.

Isis has lost a third of its territory in Iraq and Syria in the past year as counter insurgent forces and air strikes push the group back.

Last week, the UN warned that it was bracing itself for the world's biggest and most complex humanitarian effort following the battle which it expects to displace up to one million people and see civilians used as human shields or even gassed.

Camps have been prepared on the outskirts of Isis territory to cope with the movement of people.

The Iraqi government launched a radio station to help Mosul residents stay safe during the offensive last month broadcasting from Qayyara, a town around 40 miles south of the city.

On Sunday, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed that Shia militants would not enter the heavily Sunni city.

Previously local Sunni politicians and regional Sunni-majority states including Turkey and Saudi Arabia had warned that Shia soldiers taking part could lead to sectarian fighting.

Topics:  editors picks iraq isis islamic state

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Gable Tostee: His own words about that fatal night

Gable Tostee

Gable Tostee talks about the pizza, the recording, and that night

Chicken farm stink and stoush: Government urged to act

Susan Shay's Scenic Rim farm currently has 160,000 chickens.

Farmers hit back, saying survival tastes like chicken

Ipswich climber makes it to Everest Base Camp

Beau Stewart is completing the hike of a lifetime in Nepal.

He visited Alice Springs, Tasmania and spots all over south-east Queensland as part...

Local Partners

How to keep the Halloween zombies away

FEARING the pitter-patter of mini zombies, ghosts, monsters and witches when they take to the streets to celebrate Halloween?

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Tim Finn headlining at Airlie Beach Music Festival

Music veteran Tim Finn from New Zealand will headline the Airlie Beach Music Festival.

Tim Finn: "It's the kind of festival that artists love"

Bindi Irwin named in MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Britney Spears suffers wardrobe malfunction

Britney Spears suffered a wardrobe malfunction during performance

'You Spin Me Round' hitmaker dies aged 57

Pete Burns

Pete Burns has died aged 57

REVIEW: Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead disgusted me

I'm disgusted by The Walking Dead premiere.

SPOILERS: The Walking Dead premiere disgusted me.

Flick teases intense and entertaining Survivor grand final

Felicity 'Flick' Eggington in a scene from the TV series Australian Survivor.

GOLD Coaster's elimination leaves Lee, El and Kristie in final three

Priscilla concerned people will forget about Elvis

Priscilla Presley source Bang

She says she feels responsible to keep his legacy going

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals