The Iraqi military says its forces have advanced on three fronts at the beginning of an offensive to take the western city of Ramadi from Islamic State (IS) forces.
But security forces and government officials said the progress in clearing the city -- which is just 100 kilometers west of Baghdad -- of IS fighters was extremely slow.
Iraqi forces aided by U.S.-led air strikes have successfully cut off IS supply lines into the city, which the extremist group completely captured in May.
The city's fall was a major blow to the Iraqi government, which had pledged to regain control of the country after IS forces took large parts of the northern and western parts of the country.
The announcement of an imminent offensive in Ramadi came as Kurdish Peshmerga forces retook the northern town of Sinjar in a major blow for IS fighters as the loss cuts off a supply line between the IS-held Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian Raqqa.
Meanwhile, a suicide-bomb attack in Baghdad killed at least 18 and injured dozens of others at a funeral for a pro-government Shi'ite fighter on November 13.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP