ISIS Stronghold Collapses After 8 Day Battle As Caliphate Crumbles
28 August, 2017, 01:40 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
However, about three-quarters of Tal Afar is believed to be under militant control - including the Ottoman-era citadel at its centre, Reuters wrote, citing an operational map published by the Iraqi military.
Rasool, of the Iraqi Joint Military Command, said on Thursday that 302 ISIS fighters had been killed since the start of the operation.
Iraqi forces advance through Tal Afar's Al-Wahda district during an operation to retake the city from Islamic State militants on August 24.
Thousands more fled before the fighting started.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said earlier on Saturday that the country's army had already liberated 70 percent of Tal Afar from the terrorists.
On Sunday, the Iraqi government launched a major offensive to retake Tal Afar, involving army troops, federal police units, counter-terrorism forces and armed members of Hashd al-Shaabi - a largely Shia force that was incorporated into the Iraqi army past year.
Iraqi troops have made significantly rapid territorial gains, facing far less resistance in Tal Afar than in Mosul where the battle lasted over nine months. Tal Afar sits west of Mosul, where victory was declared against IS in July.
The town had a population of about 200,000 before it fell to IS in 2014.
Government troops and units of the Hashed Al Shaabi paramilitary coalition launched the assault last Sunday after weeks of coalition and Iraqi air strikes.
Iraq's intelligence services originally estimated that between 1,400 and 2,000 militants occupied the city, but that number also may have been overstated.
A security officer flashes the victory gesture during the advance in the eastern part of the town of Tal Afar.
The Islamic State group has scattered mass graves across Iraq and Syria.
Before the battle, Iraq's government and its USA military partners had estimated that 10,000 to 50,000 civilians remained in Tal Afar.
Tal Afar has produced some of IS's most senior commanders and was cut off from the rest of IS-held territory in June. Clashes are continuing with IS militants, he added.
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