Tal Afar (IraqiNews.com) Nearly 500 families have fled Nineveh’s western town of Tal Afar to Syria as Iraqi forces continue advances against Islamic State militants in their last bastion in the province.
Nashwan Ibrahim, a senior brigade commander at Kurdish Peshmerga forces, said in a press statement that nearly 500 families fled the enclave into Syria, with 190 of those arrested over suspected affiliation with Islamic State.
Earlier on Friday, a military source told Kurdish-owned Rudaw network that 6000 civilians had been evacuated from eastern and western Tal Afar in 48 hours.
Earlier this week, the United Nations said 40.000 civilians fled the town as operations launched against IS militants, adding that 30.000 were believed to remain stranded inside.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, described the situation inside Tal Afar as “very tough,” pointing to food and water shortages and lack the basic necessities.
Up to 20.000 Iraqi refugees are believed to reside in refugee camps in Syria.
Iraqi military commanders have reported daily advances and retaking of IS-held territory since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the launch of offensives on Sunday.
Past operations by the Popular Mobilization Forces, the paramilitary troops backing government forces, had managed, until the end of June, to isolate Tal Afar from the Syrian borders and from the rest of Nineveh.