The U.S. military deployed to the east of Iraq’s Mosul has started shelling Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets as part of an operation to retake the city, a Peshmerga commander said on Oct. 15, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Peshmerga Commander Omer Huseyin told the agency that American howitzers, deployed some 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away from Mosul city center, were hitting ISIL targets.
Huseyin said the U.S.-led coalition warplanes also hit areas where ISIL militants were positioned.
American officials say it has not begun. Which is either true or what you'd expect us to say if the offensive has begun.
Of course, in a sense the offensive has been going on a while in the "shaping" operations that have gone on to isolate ISIL in Mosul, degrade ISIL's ability to fight, and gain advantageous geographic positions from which an attack into Mosul can begin.
Remember that prior to crossing the berm into Iraq in March 2003, we had been "shaping" that battlefield for months with air attacks (enforcing a no-fly zone) and special forces missions.
But it is possible that this might be H-Hour officially. If so, it's about time.
UPDATE: It sure sounds like the offensive has officially begun:
The Iraqi army dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mosul before dawn on Sunday, warning residents an offensive to recapture the city from Islamic State was in its final stages of preparation, according to a military statement in Baghdad.
Denials or no, I think the offensive is a go.
UPDATE: It is official, the Big Offensive to take Mosul has Begun:
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday announced the start of an offensive to retake Mosul, the capital of Islamic State's so-called caliphate in Iraq.
"I announce today the start of the heroic operations to free you from the terror and the oppression of Daesh," he said in a speech on state TV, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Putin, demonstrating that Russian sense of humor we love, stated that he hoped we'd avoid inflicting civilian casualties during the operation.