Tal Afar (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State members are renouncing religious appearances and practices in their last stronghold in Nineveh as Iraqi forces prepare for a decisive battle to retake that haven.
A source in the town of Tal Afar, west of Nineveh, told Shafaq news website on Monday that Islamic State leaderships had directed members to give up prayers, shave beards, take off typical Afghani costumes and burn religious literature.
Since they took over a third of Iraq in 2014 to establish a self-styled “caliphate”, Islamic State members imposed a stringent, religious code of dressing and behaviour on citizens at cities under their control, punishing violators with harsh punishments that could mount to death at some cases.
Tal Afar has been isolated from Syrian borders and from the rest of Nineveh since pro-government paramilitary troops recaptured areas surrounding the enclave as part of operations to liberate Nineveh that launched in October. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said recently that plans were set for the battle to retake the town.
Iraqi government forces fully retook Mosul, IS’s largest stronghold in Iraq, last month, marking a symbolic collapse of the group’s rule. IS still maintains smaller havens in Anbar, Kirkuk and Salahuddin.