Iraqi forces have launched an operation to retake the northern city of Mosul from so-called Islamic State (IS), officials say, the BBC reports.
The first part of the long-awaited offensive has recaptured several villages, the Iraqi military has said.
The operation has been supported by air strikes from the US-led coalition, Kurdish Peshmerga troops and a Shia-dominated paramilitary force.
Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, has been under IS rule since June 2014.
An offensive to retake the city, where two million people lived before IS took over, has been in preparation for months.
Officials say the aim is to seize it within the year, but experts have questioned the ability of Iraqi forces to do so.