US President Barack Obama expressed confidence that Iraqi forces and their allies will force Islamic State (IS) to abandon Mosul.
He acknowledged, however, that the campaign to retake Mosul will be a "difficult fight".
"The start of Iraqi operations to liberate Mosul is another major step forward," Obama told reporters on Tuesday during a joint appearance at the White House with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
"In addition to rooting out ISIL, our focus jointly is on the safety and humanitarian aid for civilians who are escaping the fight," EFE news quoted Obama as saying.
An offensive by Iraqi and Kurdish fighters aimed at liberating Mosul from IS began on October 17.
The US and other Western nations, including Italy, are providing support to the Iraqi war to reclaim Iraq's second largest city.--IANS
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