Defense chief calls Iraqi offensive moment to defeat IS

A Peshmerga convoy drives towards a frontline in Khazer, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The Iraqi military and the country's Kurdish forces say they launched operations to the south and east of militant-held Mosul early Monday morning. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
A Peshmerga convoy drives towards a frontline in Khazer, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The Iraqi military and the country's Kurdish forces say they launched operations to the south and east of militant-held Mosul early Monday morning. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Defense Secretary Ash Carter is calling the start of Iraqi operations to liberate Mosul “a decisive moment in the campaign” to deliver a lasting defeat to the Islamic State group.

Carter says the United States and other members of the international coalition “stand ready to support the Iraqi Security Forces, Peshmerga fighters and the people of Iraq in the difficult fight ahead.”

Carter expressed confidence in the Iraqis to prevail against the extremists and “free Mosul and the rest of Iraq” from the militants.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (HY’-dahr ahl ah-BAH’-dee) announced the start of the military operation on state TV on Monday. The offensive to drive IS from Iraq’s second-largest city was widely anticipated to be the country’s toughest battle since American troops left nearly five years ago.

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