Interview on the radio this morning with a US colonel (not an Iraqi colonel) who was apparently handling the PR for the assault. [There's something fundamentally wrong with the idea of an assault having its own PR function, but never mind.] Asked about civilian casualties, the PR colonel seemed to be explaining - I was busy making coffee, and distracted anyway - that the munitions to be used in the assault were "precision" munitions carefully selected not to hurt anybody. The assault would feature surgical strikes on targets agreed in advance with the local Iraqi authorities.
Yes, US forces do have a track record of bombing Iraqi civilians, wedding parties mostly, and no, I wouldn't be reassured by a press release clarifying that Falmouth Town Council had agreed that my militant neighbour could be bombed but not me. Set all that aside. I was distracted by the on-the-ground report that preceded the PR colonel's input. The reporter was embedded with a collection of Iraqi ground troops. While those troops were waiting for somebody in authority to say "Go! But Don't hurt anybody!", IRTASC Islamic State were sending over drones loaded with grenades.
Even before the official start time of the assault, there had been casualties. I'm on our side, but I wonder sometimes about the incompatibility between control, oversight, management and PR blah blah on the one hand, and on the other, actually getting anything done. Look up "Battle of Mosul" on Google, and you find accounts of the final assault to take the city that began in October 2016. Today's PR spin on that - PR spin may not survive first contact with the enemy; we shall see - is that the October Battle was aimed at taking the bit of Mosul that they did manage to take (with their ten-to-one advantage).
Let's hope today's assault doesn't turn out after all to have been an initiative just to alter (rationalise?) the amount of Mosul held by the good guys.