US and French bomb Isis terror targets to take Mosul

In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 file photo, Iraqi soldiers in convoy of Iraqi military vehicles heads toward Qayyarah base in northern Iraq, ahead of an expected offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants.
In this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 file photo, Iraqi soldiers in convoy of Iraqi military vehicles heads toward Qayyarah base in northern Iraq, ahead of an expected offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants. AP Photo/Adam Schreck

The battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from Isis has begun, Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, has said.

Mosul, which is regarded as Isis' "second city", is the last major stronghold of the jihadist group in Iraq.

It has been under the group's control since June 2014, but the Iraqi offensive to retake the city has been planned for months.

In an address on state television, Mr Abadi said: "The time of victory has come and operations to liberate Mosul have started."

"Today I declare the start of these victorious operations to free you from the violence and terrorism of Daesh," he said, using another term for the jihadist group.

US and French forces had already begun bombing Isis targets in Mosul ahead of the offensive.

Isis fighters are said to be dug in and preparing to battle hard to maintain control, Reuters reported.

Ahead of the battle, the Iraqi army dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mosul urging residents to hide before the offensive begins.

The leaflets carried several messages to the citizens of the city in northern Iraq attempting to reassure them that the advancing army "would not target civilians" but warned them to avoid the known locations of Isis militants.

"Keep calm and tell your children that it is only a game or thunder before the rain," a leaflet said. "Women should not scream or shout, to preserve the children's spirit."

"If you see an army unit, stay at least 25 metres away and avoid any sudden movements," another said.

They have previously forced civilians to remain where they are rather than flee during previous battles to maintain territory.

It comes just hours after they lost control of the symbolically important town of Dabiq in Syria to a group of rebels after a short battle.

The opposition fighters were able to retake the town with "minimal" resistance despite Isis prophecies that Dabiq was to be the scene of an apocalyptic final battle between Muslims and Christians.

Isis has lost a third of its territory in Iraq and Syria in the past year as counter insurgent forces and air strikes push the group back.

Last week, the UN warned that it was bracing itself for the world's biggest and most complex humanitarian effort following the battle which it expects to displace up to one million people and see civilians used as human shields or even gassed.

Camps have been prepared on the outskirts of Isis territory to cope with the movement of people.

The Iraqi government launched a radio station to help Mosul residents stay safe during the offensive last month broadcasting from Qayyara, a town around 40 miles south of the city.

On Sunday, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed that Shia militants would not enter the heavily Sunni city.

Previously local Sunni politicians and regional Sunni-majority states including Turkey and Saudi Arabia had warned that Shia soldiers taking part could lead to sectarian fighting.

Topics:  editors picks iraq isis islamic state

Drop-in centre could help troubled youth

ENOUGH: Trevor and Kerry Wone would like to see the community working together to overcome the problem youth violence on the streets of Bundaberg.

"We want to get these kids off the streets”.

End of an era for Eidsvold Station

MOVING ON: Sally and Anthony Coates saying goodbye to Eidsvold Station, the property they've lived at for decades.

Anthony and Sally Coates set to leave Eidsvold Station.

Aussies carve watermelons as Halloween becomes 'Aussie'

It is no longer something that Americans do. It is here to stay

Local Partners

Drop-in centre could help troubled youth

A COUPLE desperate to solve the problem of youth violence are starting up a not-for-profit organisation to push for a drop-in centre in the Bundaberg CBD.

Foot stomping, eclectic gig coming to Bucca

GIG: 8 Ball Aitken will play at Bucca Hotel this weekend.

Blues artist plays at Bucca Hotel

WATCH: NASA space station is live, see the view from above

In this picture taken from NASA's International Space Station from April 2015, the SpaceX Dragon is captured with the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm before its installation to the Harmony module.

See the world from a new perspective as space station passes Rocky

Queensland's oldest pipe band needs your support

ALL THINGS CELTIC: The Bundaberg Caledonian Pipe Band is coming to the Moncrieff.

"Keep Bundaberg's Scottish band entertaining for many more years”

RECAP: The Bachelorette S2E12 - the finale

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

GEORGIA chooses Lee and leaves Matty J heartbroken.

The Bachelorette finale: Georgia declares her love for Lee

Georgia Love with The Bachelorette winner Lee Elliott.

MATTY J left heartbroken in emotional grand final.

Buy your own brothel: Scarlet Harem for sale

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: The Coast's first brothel, Scarlet Harem at Kunda Park, is up for sale.

Coast brothel madam sells up

Tom Cruise credits success to Scientology

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise credits his success to Scientology

Hacksaw Ridge leads AACTA Awards nominations

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

MEL Gibson's wartime drama opens in cinemas next week.

ABBA to reunite for virtual live experience


ABBA have confirmed they are to reunite - in virtual reality form

Drop in rental vacancies for Bundaberg

ALL OVER: The decline was across the state.

Encouraging signs for market

6 houses in Gympie under $200,000

$170, 000, 9 Norman St, Gympie

These Gympie houses are perfect for investors or first home-buyers

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available