Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced late Sunday the start of a military offensive to retake Mosul, the country’s second largest city, from the Islamic State group. State TV showed a brief written statement announcing the start of the widely anticipated military offensive to drive the terror group out of the northern city home to more than a million civilians.

Broadcasts showed the prime minister, dressed in a military uniform, speaking while flanked by senior officers. State TV broadcast patriotic music within minutes of the announcement. The thuds of sporadic artillery shelling rumbled across the rolling Nineveh plains in the direction of Mosul, witnesses said. FULL REPORT