Iraq and Kurdish forces backed by a US-led coalition have begun what could be a long fight to recapture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State; it's the group's last major stronghold in the country. Related coverage on the fight and why it matters:
- "Blood stained the sand near their front-line aid station, and a medevac helicopter touched down on the highway back to Dohuk, ready to take the most grievously hurt to treatment there." New York Times reporter Michael Gordon is embedded with Kurdish troops heading toward Mosul, and he provides a first-hand account here.
- The Times lays out what's happening on the ground with detailed maps here.
- ISIS militants could be able to hold out using tunnels and booby-trapped houses for weeks, if not two months. A Q&A with a professor at Princeton.
- On Friday, the biggest headlines were out of Kirkuk, about 100 miles away, where ISIS militants stormed a power plant and killed at least 13 workers. The AP reports the attack "appeared aimed at diverting Iraqi security forces from" Mosul.
- On Thursday, a roadside bomb resulted in the first American combat death in the operation. Details at Tribune news services.
- Looking for the very long view? The Washington Post uses five maps to illustrate how the area now known as Mosul has changed—from the Middle Ages to today. See them here.
- Assuming Iraq liberates the city, its "messy sectarian politics" will almost certainly complicate the next steps. A primer at the Globe and Mail.
- A post at National Interest wonders if Turkey and Iraq, which agree on ousting ISIS but little else, are headed for war. Read it here.
The UN thinks the Mosul fight could result in the biggest humanitarian challenge of 2016
. (Read more Mosul