Whatever else the battle for Mosul may involve, it will not be the element of surprise.
The operation to drive so-called Islamic State (IS) from Iraq’s second-largest city has been long promised and much delayed.
The latest indications are it could begin next month, more than two years after IS took Mosul and proclaimed its caliphate.
The northern city is now the last bastion of IS in Iraq. The authorities in Baghdad say the liberation of Mosul will spell the end of IS on Iraqi soil.