Some 30,000 federal forces are leading the offensive, backed by air and ground support from a 60-nation US-led coalition, in what is expected to be a long assault on IS's last major Iraqi stronghold.
Iraqi forces readied weapons and ammunition as columns of armoured vehicles headed towards Mosul from the town of Al-Shura, some 45 kilometres (30 miles) south of the city. . . .
Around 4,000 Kurdish peshmerga took part in a push to reclaim villages once inhabited by members of the Christian and Kakai minorities, a statement said.
Several villages were promptly recaptured and peshmerga forces had moved to the edges of Qaraqosh and Bartalla, two Christian towns IS seized in August 2014, commanders said.
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