Sunni fighters battle Islamic State
Sunni fighters battle Islamic State near Baiji, IraqGetty Images

The operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul a year after it was seized by Islamic State (Isis) militants has been launched, an Iraqi general told Al Arabiya.

The head of Ninawa Operations Command, General Najim al-Jubouri, said that airstrikes had been launched against the militant group's positions guarding the city, and units had been deployed in Baiji, on the main road to Mosul.

On 12 June Iraqi government forces, supported by Shia militias, retook the centre of Baiji, 113 miles from Mosul. Supported by US air strikes, they opened supply lines to army units fighting IS at a nearby oil refinery.

Baiji had previously been an IS supply route hub.

Mosul, Iraq's second city, is currently the capital of IS's self-styled caliphate in Iraq.

On Thursday, IS released a propaganda film with footage of the city being seized to mark a year since its conquest.