Iraqi forces have begun all-out offensive on IS last stronghold Mosul

Pro-government forces drive in military vehicles in Iraq's eastern Salaheddin province, south of Hawijah, on October 10, 2016, as they clear the area in preparation for the push to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the last Islamic State (IS) group held city in Iraq.  / AFP / Mahmoud al-Samarrai
Pro-government forces drive in military vehicles in Iraq’s eastern Salaheddin province, south of Hawijah, on October 10, 2016, as they clear the area in preparation for the push to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the last Islamic State (IS) group held city in Iraq. / AFP / Mahmoud al-Samarrai

An Iraqi operation to recapture the city of Mosul, the last major stronghold of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the country, has started.

Artillery began firing on the city early on Monday, in a long-awaited assault from Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi government and allied forces.

Tanks are now moving towards the city, which has been held by IS since 2014.

The UN has expressed “extreme concern” for the safety of up to 1.5 million people in the area.

The BBC’s Orla Guerin, who is with Kurdish forces east of Mosul, says tanks are advancing on the city, kicking up clouds of dust.

As the operation began, one Kurdish general told our correspondent: “If I am killed today I will die happy because I have done something for my people.”

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