File - In this June 16, 2014 photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo)
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The Iraqi military backed by U.S.-led coalition aircraft Thursday launched a long-awaited operation to recapture the northern city of Mosul from Daesh (ISIS) militants, a military spokesman said.Rasool's declaration came only few days after the United States announced that it has set up a small Marine artillery outpost in northern Iraq to protect a nearby Iraqi military base in Makhmour – the likely staging ground for a Mosul assault, located 67 kilometers southeast of the city.Coalition and Iraqi officials estimate that eight to 12 brigades, or an estimated 24,000 to 36,000 troops, will be needed for the Mosul operation. So far, only 2,000 to 3,000 Iraqi troops have been deployed at Makhmour base.
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