Iraq's armed forces started an offensive against the "Islamic State" terrorist group (aka IS, ISIS or ISIL) on March 24 in the region around Mosul with air cover from the US-led coalition, pushing the militants out of several villages, according to a statement read on state TV, Reuters reported.
The offensive is the first phase of an operation that the Iraqi government aims to conclude this year with the capture of Mosul, the largest city in the north of the country, according to the statement.
The first phase of the Fatah (Conquest) Operation has been launched at dawn to liberate the city of Nineveh, raising the Iraqi flag in several villages, the statement read.
Mosul, home to around two million people before it fell to the IS during a lightning offensive in 2014, is by far the biggest city ruled by the jihadist group in either Iraq or Syria. An Iraqi offensive to recapture it, backed by air strikes and advisers from a US-led coalition, would be the biggest counterattack ever mounted against the group.
Earlier, Turkey sent military aid to Iraq with two C-130 planes to liberate Mosul. It was expected that the operation to retake Mosul would start in April 2015.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which doesn't obey to KRG, said it also wants to take part in liberation of Mosul.