Tal Afar (IraqiNews.com) U.S. forces have erected a military base near Islamic State’s last stronghold in Nineveh to support imminent Iraqi operations to retake the area, an army official said Wednesday.
Lit. Col. Mahdi al-Khafaji, an official in charge of heavy machinery at the Iraqi army, told Anadolu Agency that the establishment of the base came after consultations by U.S. and Iraqi troops last Friday in Mosul.
Engineering teams are done with 50 percent of work at the base, according to Khafaji, who revealed that special U.S. troops and advisers had arrived to the site in armored vehicles.
Col. Ahmed al-Jubouri, from the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) told the agency that current works were concentrated on preparing the runway for military aeroplanes that are supposed to provide logistic backing for the operations. He added that several JOC troops had arrived to the facility, including nearly 30 tanks, 190 armored vehicles, 100 tractors, 200 minesweepers and other equipment.
Tal Afar is 65 kilometers away from Mosul, and is home to a mixed Turkmen and Arab population. Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, Islamic State’s former capital, early July after more than eight months of U.S.-backed offensives. Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi and his defense officials have recently marked Tal Afar as their next target of anti-Islamic State action.