The Iraqi military says a major operation to recapture the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) militants "has begun."
Army spokesman Brigadier General Yahia Rasul said on March 24 that the operation code-named Al-Fatah (Conquest) had started at dawn.
Rasul said Iraqi forces had retaken several villages on the outskirts of the town of Makhmur, east of Iraq's second-largest city.
He also said the U.S.-led international coalition against the IS group was providing air support.
Mosul, located 360 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, fell to IS fighters in June 2014.
In December 2015, Iraq retook the western city of Ramadi, marking the first major setback for the IS group in months.
Based on reporting by AP and dpa