Iraqi forces, supported by US-led airstrikes and special forces, advanced on Mosul from the east and the south on Monday in the first phase of a long-planned offensive to retake the city from Islamic State.
The advance on Monday evening aims to liberate Iraq’s second biggest city, an Isis stronghold where its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the establishment of a caliphate two years ago.
The Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, advanced steadily in long armoured columns across the Nineveh plain to the east of Mosul, pausing at each deserted village to allow engineers to search for mines and booby traps left by Isis.
Peshmerga officials claimed their tanks had destroyed two Isis suicide truck bombs. By the end of the first day in the attempt to oust the jihadi group from their last major Iraqi stronghold, Kurdish leaders said their forces had captured 200 sq km (77 sq miles).