Iraqi government troops backed by forces from a United States-led coalition began yesterday major offensive to take back the city of Mosul from Daesh. The coordinated assault on the northern Iraqi city, held by ISIS since 2014, will also include the participation of Kurdish forces, some of whom have been trained by Canadian troops.

As many as 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, as well as Peshmerga and Sunni fighters, are said to be involved in the battle to drive out some 4,000 to 8,000 ISIS terrorists.

According to the Iraqi Kurdish military command, some 4,000 Peshmerga were taking part in an operation.

Mosul is considered to be the final major stronghold of ISIS in Iraq.

Reports said long convoys of armoured vehicles and trucks were seen heading for villages near the city while U.S.-led airstrikes and artillery fire pounded the area near the city of some 1.5 million inhabitants.

A report from the Canadian Press quoted senior military commander as saying the attack was “going well.”

On the dawn before the attack, the Iraqi army dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mosul warning residents that the offensive was imminent.

The leaflets carried several messages, one of them assuring the population that advancing army units and airstrikes “will not target civilians,” the Canadian Press said. Other leaflets instructed  residents to avoid known ISIS locations and “stay at home.”

Canadians troops are also playing a role in the offensive.

Canadian soldiers are acting as trainers of Kurdish fighters. The Canadian armed forces will also be providing military field hospitals.

By late Monday afternoon, reports from the battle front said that Iraqi forces have inflicted “heavy loses” on ISIS.

CNN said that the invading forces have cleared nine villages and extending their control over a key road.

The General Command of Peshmerga Forces said the cleared villages included: Baskhira, Tarjala, Kharbat Sultan, Karbirli, Bazgirtan, Shaquli, Badana Bchuk, Badana Gawre, and Shekh Amir. A significant portion of the Erbil-Mosul road was also reclaimed.