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unching off of a carrier in the Arabian Gulf, US fighter jets heading to Iraq's second city Mosul as the operation to retake it from Islamic State is under way.>> I'm Reuter's Emily Wither on the USS Eisenhower. Missions are running here through the day and night with more jets now headed to Mosul to provide air support as the fight unfolds below.
>> If we get a 1,000 foot block, we'll->> Lieutenant Aaron is briefing his wingman ahead of their mission to Mosul. Now that the operation has started, they said they're regularly coordinating with commanders on the ground, as airstrikes become more dynamic. What are the challenges of operating in that environment in Iraq, around Mosul?
>> Think of it's a big city, it's a bustling city. You look down, I was there the other day, and there was a traffic jam. And you would that there's a bunch of bad guys there and there'll be no traffic, but it's bustling city just like a city that we would have back home.
>> In the first days of the operation, fighters jets from here struck Islamic State's hideouts and fighter positions in Mosul. Behind me is the bomb farm. It's from here that the ordinances are loaded on to the jets. 700 bombs have been dropped in Iraq and Syria in this deployment alone over the last few months.
When it comes to muzzle, the Navy stress protecting civilians in this complex operation as priority. High up in the ship's tower the captain says it's a challenging environment for his men.>> There are obviously lots of areas for the enemy to conceal themselves, there are areas where they can blend into the civilian population.
They can use infrastructure within that city to mask their intentions.>> Back from his mission, Lieutenant Aaron spend seven hours in the air, an average for the pilots here who usually fly daily.>> Tonight our main role was just look at villages that were surround Mosul and we didn't see anything, which is good.
If we didn't see any ISIS fighters in those villages, that means they're not in those villages.>> Tonight may have been quiet. But this is an operation with no real time frame and a battle that could last months or even years