ISIS' scorched earth policy: Jihadis torch oil wells as allies advance on Mosul, casting apocalyptic pall over fleeing refugees - just like defeated Saddam did in 1991
- The terror group's fighters have begun setting fire to oil wells as they carry out scorched earth tactics
- It is a method used to minimise the visibility of enemy pilots as ISIS are bombarded with air strikes
- It has striking similarities with the end of the 1991 Gulf War, as Saddam's troops did the same in Kuwait
The jihadis have begun sending huge plumes of black smoke into the air above the key territory, as the battle to defeat the terror group enters a third day.
But images showing smoke flying in the sky have already been compared to the tactics used in the 1991 Gulf War, when Saddam took his troops out of Kuwait with defeat in sight.
ISIS radicals have begun setting fire to oil wells as they flee Mosul - with striking similarities to Saddam Hussain's defeated troops 25 years ago
A truckload of refugees flee the area as the flames and plumes of smock billow out behind them
The jihadis have begun feeling the key territory, as the battle to defeat the terror group starts to reach a conclusion
Iraqi army forces arrive in the village of Hut as smoke can be seen rising from oil wells behind them
A vehicle full of Iraqi soldiers arrive in Hut as an Iraqi flag is seen planted in the ground two years after the army's defeat there
The scorched earth tactics are used to limit the visibility of enemy pilots during air strikes. It also destroys millions of dollars worth of oil that is crucial in a way that is also extremely bad for the environment.
Civilians have already begun fleeing the villages around Mosul as the allies advance, in a bid to stay clear of the ongoing conflict.
The ongoing conflict brings Iraqi forces back to the scene of their disastrous collapse in 2014, but ISIS has long since been put on the defensive.
Commanders have said progress is already being made in the battle to recapture the area.
Iraqi forces have even been said to be 'ahead of schedule' as they push into the dusty plains surrounding the city, reports AFP.
More than 40,000 Iraqi and Kurd troops are leading the offensive, backed by air and ground support from a 60-nation US-led coalition, in what is expected to be a long and difficult assault.
From the south the Iraqi army are just 24 miles away, with Kurdish fighters 19 miles to the east.
Yet there is still a large amount of ground to cover before the city boundaries can be breached, with berms, bombs and burning oil trenches blocking the way.
As many as 5,000 IS soldiers are thought to remain in Mosul, with US President Barack Obama warning of the tough battle ahead.
Iraqi refugees are seen after they have arrived at Al Qayyarah town, which has been secured by Iraqi Army
Iraqi internally displaced civilians are seen as they have arrived at Al Qayyarah
The civilians fleeing from ISIS-controlled areas of Mosul to find safer locations while the battle rumbles on
More Iraqi army vehicles arriving in Hut as the oil wells burn - a tactic used to limit coalition forces pilots' eyesight
A line of Iraqis leave as they head towards Al Qayyarah
A group convenes as the near the town where the refugees are heading to escape the conflict
During a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi he said: 'Mosul will be a difficult fight. There will be advances and there will be setbacks.'
Even though the IS forces are vastly outnumbered, the battle looks set to be lengthy affair that could last months, according to the French Defence Minister.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said it won't be a 'Blitzkrieg', a lightning war achieving success in a short period of time.
'It's a city of a million-and-a-half inhabitants, so this is an affair that will last a long time,' he said, adding that the offensive is 'essential' to prevent new IS attacks.
French war planes are supporting the military campaign on the ground, where US, British and French special forces are advising local troops.
The images have already been compared to the tactics used in the 1991 Gulf War, when Saddam took his troops out of Kuwait with defeat in sight
The similar tactics were used by Saddam Hussein in Kuwait. The burning of oil wastes millions of dollars worth of supplies and damages the environment
Several blown-out wells damaged by retreating Iraqi soldiers in Al-Ahmadi oil field burn in the Gulf War of 25 years ago
Iraqi troops retreating after a seven-month occupation in 1991 smashed and torched 727 wells
The scorched earth tactics are used to limit the visibility of enemy pilots during air strikes
But most of the coalition's backing has come from air strikes, which reportedly destroyed 52 targets on the first day of the operation.
Despite the warnings of a protracted assault, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said: 'Early indications are that Iraqi forces have met their objectives so far, and that they are ahead of schedule for this first day.'
The UN is expecting people to start fleeing the city 'basically any minute now', fearing IS soldiers will use the escaping residents as human shields.
And humanitarian agencies have warned the battle could unleash the 'worst man-made humanitarian crisis' seen in modern times.
'In a worst-case scenario, we're literally looking at the single largest humanitarian operation in the world in 2016,' said Lise Grande from the UN.
'In Mosul, depending on what happens militarily, a million people could move in a time span of a couple of weeks.'
Heavily armoured military vehicles head towards Mosul on Tuesday in a major offensive
'Ahead of schedule': Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers stand above a tunnel dug by ISIS
Long road ahead: The battle looks set to be lengthy affair that could last months according to the French Defence Minister
As the battle got underway, terrifying body cam footage captured the fierce fighting between the two sides.
A Kurdish fighter filmed the moment he sprinted across open land amid deafening gunfire and explosions during one of the early advances.
ISIS fanatics ran around 'like rats' as they emerged from a network of tunnels to surprise the soldiers with suicide attacks.
There are fears they will use chemical weapons, snipers, and booby traps to desperately defend their posi