Iraqi army's soldiers get on their armored vehicles on Feb. 2, 2016 as they prepare to drive towards Alsjarih area, east of the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province. AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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The Iraqi army is deploying thousands of soldiers to a northern base in preparation for operations to retake ISIS's hub of Mosul, officials said on Monday.ISIS seized Mosul in June 2014 and except for airstrikes has held Iraq's second city largely unopposed for more than 18 months as the country's security forces battled the jihadis in other areas.Mosul is expected to be the most difficult battle of Iraq's war against ISIS due to its size, the presence of large numbers of civilians in the city, and the long period the jihadis have had to prepare defenses.Iraqi forces have worked slowly and deliberately to isolate other ISIS-held cities such as Tikrit and Ramadi before launching assaults to retake them, and cutting off Mosul will likely take longer than either.
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