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Smoke billows as Iraqi forces deploy on October 17, 2016 in the area of al-Shurah, some 45 kms south of Mosul, while advancing towards the city to retake it from the Islamic State (IS) group jihadists.
Some 30,000 federal forces are leading the offensive, backed by air and ground support from a 60-nation US-led coalition, in what is expected to be a long and difficult assault on IS's last major Iraqi stronghold.

 / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE        (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke billows as Iraqi forces deploy on October 17, 2016 in the area of al-Shurah, some 45 kms south of Mosul, while advancing towards the city to retake it from the Islamic State (IS) group jihadists.
Some 30,000 federal forces are leading the offensive, backed by air and ground support from a 60-nation US-led coalition, in what is expected to be a long and difficult assault on IS's last major Iraqi stronghold.

 / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE        (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

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Thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish are battling to liberate Iraq's second largest city. CNN's Barbara Starr reports.