Iraqi PM says start of Tal Afar liberation op underway

Posted August 21, 2017

Iraqi forces launched an operation to recapture the town of Tal Afar from ISIS.

Tal Afar, 50 miles (80 km) west of Mosul, was cut off from the rest of the ISIS-held territory in June.

On Thursday, the coalition conducted three strikes near Tal Afar that engaged two Daesh tactical units and destroyed warehouses, terrorist-held buildings, tunnel entrances and a command and control node.

Shia militiamen largely stayed out of the operation to retake Mosul, which is a mostly Sunni city, but have vowed to play a bigger role in the battle for Tal Afar, which was home to both Sunni and Shia Turkmen before it fell to IS.

It is now surrounded by Iraqi government troops, Shiite volunteers as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the north, with an estimated 2,000 fighters still holed up in the city.

The coalition statement added that "following their historic victory in Mosul, the [Iraqi security forces] have proven themselves a capable, formidable, and increasingly professional force, and they are well prepared to deliver another defeat to ISIS in Tall Afar". The US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria welcomed the start of the offensive and pledged support to Iraqi forces involved.

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The Iraqi army has launched a series of powerful attacks on the strategically important city of Tal Afar in a bid to reclaim it from Islamic State.

"Their faces looked desperate and broken".

Grande described the situation inside Tal Afar as "very tough", because food and water are running out, and people lack the basic necessities to survive, according to the statement by the United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Yet the jihadis maintained a presence in several other areas of the country, including Tall Afar, a multiethnic city some 40 miles west of Mosul.

Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), some of which are trained and armed by Iran, said they will also take part in the battle.

"Intelligence gathered shows clearly that the remaining fighters are mainly foreign and Arab nationals with their families, and that means they will fight until the last breath", Colonel Kareem al-Lami, from the Iraqi army's 9th Division, said. Grande says more than 30,000 people have already fled, but didn't say since when.