Update for Monday, October 17, 2016

Iraqi PM Haider Al-Abadi announces the beginning of the offensive to retake Mosul. Thirty-thousand Iraqi government and allied forces, including Kurdish peshmerga and Arab militias, are taking part in the offensive to re-take the city from an estimated 4-8,000 IS fighters. Up to 1.5 million civilians are believed still to be in the city.

The U.S. Department of Defense announces U.S. participation through Operation Inherent Resolve. The OIR coalition will provide "air support, artillery, intelligence, advisors and forward air controllers," Townsend said in the statement, adding that the supporting forces "will continue to use precision to accurately attack the enemy and to minimize any impact on innocent civilians."

Peshmerga forces are advancing from the northeast and claim to have taken 5 villages.

Washington Post reporters dispatch from Khazir, from which the Kurdish offensive has been launched.

DPA reports on the Iraqi push from Qayyara to the south as well as giving some details on peshmerga progress.

The UN lacks resources to adequately deal with the expected flood of displaced people. Civilians lack safe escape routes. (The second link is to an AP blog, which has frequent updates.)

BBC coverage includes some helpful maps and tactical discussion.

Time provides background coverage on the city and its significance.

(I will provide frequent updates as developments warrant.)

Update: The Guardian discusses the role of U.S. special forces acting as "Joint terminal air controllers," that is troops near the front lines who act as spotters for air strikes. The article discusses some specific targets hit by U.S. aircraft as the offensive began.

Source : warnewstoday[dot]blogspot[dot]com