The huge ground offensive against ISIS-held Mosul could push ISIS terrorists to come to Europe, a senior British diplomat has warned.

Sir Julian King said it was relatively easy for jihadist terrorists to make it into Europe, even with fake IDs, as the terror group loses ground in Iraq.

The newly appointed EU Commissioner for the Security Union said a possible influx of battle-hardened fanatics posed a ‘very serious threat’.

‘Re-taking the Islamic State stronghold in northern Iraq can lead to a scenario in which violent militants would return to Europe,’ he told Die Welt.

It comes as Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said aid agencies are ready to assist civilians fleeing the fighting.

A battle for the liberation of Mosul began at midnight on Sunday with some 34,000 local forces advancing towards the city backed by British warplanes and drones.

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Iraq and Kurdish commanders recently announced a pause in the advance.

There are fears tens of thousands of civilians could be used as human shields by retreating ISIS terrorists.

Residents said ISIS terrorists were preventing people fleeing Mosul and had directed them towards buildings they had recently used themselves.

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Speaking in the Commons yesterday, the Secretary of State for Defence said ISIS was ‘failing’ in Iraq, but warned the battle ‘will not be a quick operation’.

Sir Michael said around half of the RAF’s bombing raids in the region were now concentrating on Mosul.

Responding to an urgent question, he said: ‘Defeating Daesh in the long term will help make the streets of Britain and Europe safer.’