Iraq begins offensive to free western Mosul from Daesh

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the operation start on state television, saying government forces were moving to "liberate the people of Mosul from Daesh oppression forever", using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

US -backed Iraqi forces launched a large-scale military operation on Sunday to dislodge Islamic State militants from the western half of Mosul city, a battle that is expected to be prolonged and hard due to a densely packed civilian population and older, narrower streets.

DISTURBING footage which appears to show Iraqi troops whipping and torturing civilians has emerged as coalition-backed forces launched a battle to retake Mosul.

The violent videos were posted on social media pages supporting the Iraqi government forces, but it is not known when they were taken.

The city of Mosul has been an ISIS stronghold since they took control of the city in January 2014.

Al-Abadi called on security forces to deal with civilians properly and respect human rights.

The US-led coalition assisting Iraqi forces in their war on the ISIL group on Sunday praised the militias involved in the fighting, despite some of those groups' links to Iran. That city is also under siege by US -backed forces. After months of fighting, the coalition managed to secure the east bank of the city last month.

Sheikh Thair Abdul Karim Watban al-Jarba, of the Arab Tribe Shammar in west Mosul, said that about 50 cars carrying militants of ISIS' Special Forces coming from Syria tried to enter Tal Afar a few days ago. At least 6,50,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in the city. Iraqi forces declared the eastern half of the city "fully liberated" last month, but the militants still hold the entire city west of the Tigris River, and have carried out scattered attacks in the east.

The battle in west Mosul could be even tougher than on the eastern side, owing to the narrow streets of the Old City that are impassable for many military vehicles and to the presumed higher level of support for the jihadists among the population there.

  • Leroy Wright