The Beginning of the Battle for Mosul

Thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish troops, supported by the United States, France, and Britain, are now in the early stages of a massive operation to retake the Iraq's second largest city of Mosul from ISIS militants. Advancing on multiple fronts, the Iraqi assault has so far recaptured numerous outlying villages, but central Mosul still lies ahead. Members of the United Nations and others fear a major crisis may result as hundreds of thousands of civilians are driven from their homes by the war, while ISIS fighters have threatened to fight to the death. In villages already captured, booby traps are being discovered on roadsides, in the remaining buildings, and in networks of tunnels dug beneath them. [31 photos total]

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1
A man stands in front of an oil fire burning in the Qayyarah area, some 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Mosul, on October 19, 2016, during an operation by Iraqi forces against ISIS jihadists to retake the main hub city. (Yasin Akgul / AFP / Getty) #
2
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire a rocket launcher from a position in Sheikh Ali village near the town of Bashiqa, 25 kilometers north east of Mosul, on October 20, 2016, during an operation against ISIS. (Safin Hamed / AFP / Getty) #
3
Smoke rises from burning oil wells on October 18, 2016 near the town of Qayyarah, south of Mosul, during the operation to recapture the city from ISIS. (Bulent Kilic / AFP / Getty) #
4
This photo taken on Sunday, October 16, 2016 and released on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office shows French army Rafale fighter jets taking off from the deck of France's aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, in the Mediterranean sea. Seven French Rafale jets, from the Air Force and the Navy, carried out airstrikes south of Mosul overnight October 15-16 with SCALP missiles that destroyed a factory making improvised explosive devices. (ECPAD via AP) #
5
Smoke rises from Islamic state positions after an airstrike by coalition forces in Mosul, Iraq, on October 18, 2016. (AP) #
6
Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers rest close to their observation post in Nawaran, 20 kilometers northeast of Mosul, on October 20, 2016. (Marko Drobnjakovic / AP) #
7
Earth is piled up on a road to Mosul stop ISIS suicide bombers attacking Kurdish positions during the battle to retake Mosul, on October 19, 2016 in Bashiqa, Iraq. (Carl Court / Getty) #
8
An Iraqi soldier protects himself from the dust as he sits on a vehicle heading to the front line in Kani al-Harami, 35 kilometers outside Mosul, on October 19, 2016. (Bulent Kilic / AFP / Getty) #
9
Smoke rises as people flee their homes during clashes between Iraqi security forces and members of ISIS fleeing Mosul, Iraq, on October 18, 2016. (AP) #
10
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter leans out of his military vehicle which has taken several direct hits from ISIS snipers including on the windscreen on October 18, 2016 in the small town of Bartella near Mosul. (Carl Court / Getty) #
11
Members of Peshmerga forces inside a military vehicle north of Mosul, during an operation to attack ISIS on October 20, 2016. (Ari Jalal / Reuters) #
12
Iraqi forces sit in the back of a vehicle as troops advance through the desert on the banks of the Tigris river, northeast of the main staging base of Qayyarah, on October 20, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty) #
13
A member of Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces pauses as they advance towards the city of Mosul on October 20, 2016. (Khalid Mohammed / AP) #
14
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier walks through the rubble of a village previously held by ISIS and hit by a coalition airstrike the battle to retake Mosul, on October 18, 2016 in Bartella, Iraq. (Carl Court / Getty) #
15
An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter stands inside of a damaged building on October 18, 2016 on the frontline in Shaqouli village, about 35 kilometers east of Mosul, after they recaptured it from ISIS jihadists. (Safin Hamed / AFP / Getty) #
16
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier gestures towards a tunnel dug by ISIS fighters in a village recently recaptured by the Kurds on October 18, 2016. (Carl Court / Getty) #
17
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stands in a tunnel dug by ISIS in a village recently recaptured by the Kurds on October 18, 2016 in Bartella, Iraq. (Carl Court / Getty) #
18
Looking down into a tunnel dug by ISIS in a house recently recaptured by the Kurds, on October 18, 2016 in Bartella, near Mosul in Iraq. (Carl Court / Getty) #
19
A peshmerga fighter walks through the kitchen of an underground tunnel made by ISIS fighters on October 18, 2016. The Kurdish forces found the tunnel in the town of Badana that was liberated on Monday. The fighters built tunnels under residential areas so they could move without being seen from above to avoid airstrikes. (Bram Janssen / AP) #
20
An Iraqi army soldier stands near the dead body of an ISIS fighter on the outskirts of Qayyarah, Iraq, on October 19, 2016. (Marko Drobnjakovic / AP) #
21
A picture taken on October 18, 2016 shows a helicopter prowling the perimeter of the Qayyarah military base, about 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Mosul. Qayyarah base was retaken from ISIS earlier this year and is now a key logistics hub for the major multi-pronged operation to recapture Mosul, Iraq's second city. It houses members of the US-led coalition against IS, which is providing support to Iraqi forces. (Bulent Kilic / AFP / Getty) #
22
An Iraqi forces M109 self-propelled howitzer fires towards the village of Tall al-Tibah, 30 kilometers south of Mosul, on October 19, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty) #
23
An Iraqi policeman tries on a gasmask at Qayyarah military base on October 16, 2016, as they prepare for an offensive to retake Mosul. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty) #
24
Smoke rises as people flee their homes during clashes between Iraqi security forces and members of ISIS fleeing Mosul on October 18, 2016. (AP) #
25
An Iraqi man walks on a street covered with smoke after oil was set ablaze in the Qayyarah area on October 19, 2016. (Yasin Akgul / AFP / Getty) #
26
A man takes a selfie in front of an oil fire in the Qayyarah area, 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Mosul, on October 19, 2016, during an operation by Iraqi forces against ISIS. (Yasin Akgul / AFP / Getty) #
27
Displaced Iraqis from the Bajwaniyah village, about 30 km south of Mosul, who fled fighting in the Mosul area carry a white flag as they approach security forces on October 18, 2016 after they liberated the village from ISIS. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty) #
28
A young Iraqi refugee, who fled due to the ongoing conflict between pro-government forces and ISIS jihadists, walks at a camp in the northeastern town of al-Hol in Syria's Hasakeh province on October 19, 2016. (Delil Souleiman / AFP / Getty) #
29
An Iraqi soldier looks on as smoke billows from the Qayyarah area on October 19, 2016. (Yasin Akgul / AFP / Getty) #
30
A Kurdish peshmerga soldier fires his rifle at an ISIS position during an assault to recapture the village of Tiskharab on October 20, 2016. (Carl Court / Getty) #
31
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters stand in an area near the town of Bashiqa, 25 kilometers northeast of Mosul, as smoke billows on October 20, 2016, during an operation against ISIS to retake the main hub city. (Safin Hamed / AFP / Getty) #

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