After months of conflict the Iraqi military and its allies have begun a major ground offensive to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) out of Western Mosul. In June 2014, ISIL forces captured Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Over two years later, it is became the group’s last stronghold in the country.
On February 19, 2017, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the operation on state television. He described the aggressive new operation as twofold: first to liberate civilians and later to reclaim territory from the Islamic State. “Our first priority is to free human beings before freeing the land” he said.