Sign up to receive FirstFT by email hereThe battle for Mosul has begun. Columns of around 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, Kurdish peshmerga and local militias are moving on the Isis stronghold, backed by shelling and air strikes. The fight is expected to last weeks, if not months.When Iraq’s second city fell to the jihadi militants in July 2014, it was an abject humiliation for the country’s military. Riddled with corruption and sectarianism, and staffed by cronies of then president Maliki, its poorly-led soldiers were no match for the zealous militants fighting a so-called holy war.Two years on, the fight to regain the city is being supported by US and British special forces and air power. But it is expected to be long and difficult. The stakes are as high for Isis as they are for Baghdad — Mosul was supposed to be the jewel in the crown of the group’s caliphate. Hundreds of thousands of civilians who still live inside the city are trapped between the fighting forces and the UN has warned that the battle could spark the single largest humanitarian crisis of the year. (FT, BuzzFeed, Middle East Eye)In the newsMr Duterte goes to China Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte heads to China and Japan this week for talks that will test whether his anti-US rhetoric will lead to a fundamental security shake-up on Asia’s seas.
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