Tal Afar (IraqiNews.com) Army forces killed 16 Islamic State members on Friday after thwarting an attack by the militants near Tal Afar, their last bastion in Nineveh.
Col. Dureid Saeed, from the army’s 15th division, told Kurdish-owned BasNews that the militants, including four suicide bombers, were killed on the outskirts of Tal Afar upon attacking the forces.
Tal Afar is 65 kilometers west of 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.
Having declared victory in Mosul, Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi and his defense officials marked Tal Afar as their next target of anti-Islamic State action. Iraqi defense officials said recently that warplanes were carrying out raids on the enclave in preparation for the ground invasion which is yet to be scheduled. Other field commanders reported reinforcements and deployments around the town in preparation for the invasion.
Violence and armed conflicts left more than 500 Iraqis dead and injured throughout July, according to a monthly United Nations casualty count.