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Mosul fight will take time: Payne

AAP logoAAP 17/10/2016 Jennifer Rajca

Defence Minister Marise Payne says the Iraqi government's battle to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State will take time.

Australia will continue its advise-and-assist mission in the warn-torn nation as Iraq focuses on liberating the northern city - home to more than a million people.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of military operations on state television on Monday.

Senator Payne said the path to Mosul had been a long one and was predicted to take a considerable period of time.

"It is not a simple process," she told reporters in Canberra.

The international coalition working with the Iraqi government was conscious of the need to protect the civilian community.

But Senator Payne declined to elaborate on predictions of civilian casualties.

"I don't think my conjecture on rates of casualties or otherwise would be helpful at this point," she said.

The coalition was also acutely aware of the flow-on effects the capture of Mosul could have, especially on the movement of IS fighters.

"In Australia, we of course have had a very strong view in relation to those who have gone to the fighting areas and the complete rejection of those activities," Senator Payne said.

Australia and its allies would monitor the situation.

"Then governments and the international coalition will consider the future and we'll be doing that in consultation and in discussion with the Iraqi government," the minister said.

Senator Payne refused to elaborate further on operational details, saying she was awaiting updates.

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