Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has announced the start of a major offensive against al-Qaeda militants in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. "Today, the troops have moved to Mosul... and the fight there will be decisive," he said in Karbala city.
The ethnically mixed city of Mosul has seen an upsurge in violence in the past year. Correspondents say the increased violence appears to be a consequence of the offensive by US-led forces in and around Baghdad, with Sunni Arab insurgents believed to have transferred their operations further north.
A decisive victory in Mosul would be a big nail in the coffin of established al-Queda in Iraq. They can and will snipe from the fringes, but they are running out of places to hang their hats.