The commander of Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service said Tuesday that, with his forces at the edge of jihadist-held Mosul, the "true liberation" of the city had begun.

Iraqi forces launched a massive operation aimed at retaking Mosul from the Islamic State group more than two weeks ago, and have been advancing on the city on multiple fronts.

"Now is the beginning of the true liberation of the city of Mosul," Staff General Taleb Sheghati al-Kenani told Iraqiya state television.

CTS has been advancing toward Mosul from the east.

IS overran Mosul along with swathes of other territory in the summer of 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground from jihadists, and the city is now their last stronghold in the country.