An all-out assault to drive Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants from the northern city of Mosul - their last major stronghold in Iraq - was launched yesterday.
The United States-led coalition said it is backing the offensive - involving nearly 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops - with air strikes, artillery, intelligence and advisers.
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter called the offensive a "decisive moment" in the anti-ISIS campaign.
It comes more than two years after ISIS militants swept into Iraq's second-largest city from where its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a so-called caliphate encompassing parts of Iraq and Syria.
If Mosul falls, Raqqa in Syria will be ISIS' last city stronghold.
The United Nations refugee agency and aid groups are already warning of a massive humanitarian crisis.