Tal Afar (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi forces killed 17 Islamic State militants northwest of Tal Afar, two weeks after the enclave was recaptured by government troops, a military commander said Monday.
Gamal Saadoun, a senior commander in Kurdish Peshmerga forces, told Kurdish network Rudaw that Iraqi troops attacked the village of Qasab al-Rai, Ayyadiyah, northwest of Tal Afar, from three directions, breaking a 13-day siege on the region.
With clashes erupting between the militants and Iraqi army troops, 17 militants fell in a Peshmerga ambush, and were killed consequently, said Saadoun.
According to Rudaw, field sources had said that 200 Islamic State militants, mostly foreigners, were stranded inside Qasab al-Rai during the siege.
Iraqi forces took over Tal Afar and surrounding areas late August, consummating the recapture of Nineveh province as part of a wide-scale campaign to liberate Islamic State-held regions that launched in October.
The Iraqi government and military commanders are eyeing the recapture of Hawija, Islamic State’s bastion in Kirkuk, as their next move. IS still holds havens in Anbar and Salahuddin.
Iraq hopes to bring down the self-proclaimed “caliphate” declared by Islamic State’s supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014 over a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria.