10/20/2016 12:54 pm ET

Breathtaking Photos Reveal The Dangers Soldiers Face In Battle For Mosul, Iraq

They're fighting in the biggest Iraqi battle since 2003.
YASIN AKGUL via Getty Images
A man takes a selfie in front of oil that has been set ablaze in the Qayyarah area of Iraq, some 35 miles south of Mosul, on Thursday during an Iraqi forces operation against Islamic State militants in the battle for the key city.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by a Western coalition of states including the U.S., are busy trying to take back Mosul from the so-called Islamic State.

The militant group has controlled the Iraqi city for two years. The battle is expected to be the largest in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, according to Reuters news agency.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Mosul in the past few years, but around 1.5 million still live in the city.

Coalition forces anticipate that the offensive will take several weeks, though it’s going quicker than planned, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday.

The below images give a real sense of what those fighting on the ground are dealing with every day:

  • YASIN AKGUL via Getty Images
    Iraqi soldiers look on as smoke rises from the Qayyarah area, some 35 miles south of Mosul, Iraq, on Oct. 19, 2016.
  • BULENT KILIC via Getty Images
    Iraqi forces fire a M109 self-propelled howitzer toward the village of Al-Muftuya from a position in Kani al-Harami, some 21 miles from Mosul.
  • Carl Court via Getty Images
    A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter leans out of his military vehicle, which has taken several direct hits from ISIS snipers in the small town of Bartella near Mosul on Oct. 18, 2016.
  • Carl Court via Getty Images
    Kurdish fighters recaptured this tunnel that the Islamic State dug into a house during the battle for Mosul.
  • SAFIN HAMED via Getty Images
    An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter stands inside a building on the frontline in Shaqouli village, recaptured from Islamic State fighters, some 21 miles east of Mosul on Oct. 18, 2016.
  • Alaa Al-Marjani / Reuters
    Displaced people who are fleeing from clashes sit inside a military vehicle in Qayyarah while an operation takes place to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, around 19 miles away.