In the two weeks since the long-awaited offensive to wrest Mosul from ISIS began, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have been gradually pushing forward, liberating villages along the way that were once under ISIS control.
The battle so far has been bloody — Iraq’s elite forces have faced ISIS fighters who have attacked with a barrage of suicide car bombs, heavy machine-gun fire, and IEDs (improvised explosive devices), along with constant mortar attacks.
As Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue to take control of villages leading to Mosul, they are constantly threatened by fears of ISIS hiding among civilians to make a last attempt to kill them. The militants are entrenched among an estimated 1 million people in their most important city and are expected to take cover among them.
The images below were all taken in the weeks since anti-ISIS forces prepared to launch an offensive to retake Mosul on Oct. 17.