Image copyrightAFPImage captionIraqi forces have been preparing for the offensive at a base near Mosul
BBC - The long-awaited assault from Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi government and allied forces is backed by the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq.A military operation to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul from so-called Islamic State (IS) has begun, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says.
Mosul, Iraqs second largest city, has been under IS control since June 2014.
The UN has warned that the humanitarian impact could be "enormous", and affect up to 1.2 million people.
Mosul is the groups last major stronghold in Iraq. The loss of the city, officials say, would mark the effective defeat of IS in the country.
Sporadic artillery was heard in areas around the city after the announcement, AP news agency reported.
In an address broadcast on state television in the early hours of Monday, Mr Abadi said: "The hour of victory has come, the operation to liberate Mosul has started."
"Today I declare the start of the heroic operations to liberate you from Daesh," he said, using another name for IS.
"God willing we will meet in Mosul to celebrate the liberation and your salvation from Isis (IS) so we can live together once again, all religions united and together we shall defeat Daesh to rebuild this dear city of Mosul."