oke rolling over villages south of Mosul as bombs rain down on the region. Iraqi forces storming closer to the Islamic State stronghold. Almost two weeks into the advance the noose is tightening on the jihadist group. A new front opening up to the west on Saturday which would leave Islamic State effectively encircled.
Shiite militia have joined the battle, launching an offensive on the town of Tal Afar. The thousands of battle hardened fighters trained by Iran will aide extra fire power. But their arrival also risks inflaming sectarian violence, and is sure to alarm Turkey. Tal Afar is home to a sizable population of ethnic Turkmen.
And the Shiia militia have previously been accused of committing war crimes against Sunni civilians.
underscores the complexity of the Mosul assault, which is expected to be long and bloody. Islamic State's shown no sign of giving in, the UN reporting that the jihadists are forcing families to march alongside them.
>> Effectively using tens of thousands of women, men, and children as human shields. Many of those who refused to comply were shot on the spot.>> Mosul is by far the largest city held by Islamic State and its loss would mark their effective defeat in Iraq.