Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) Maps were airdropped by Iraqi air forces over Nineveh province on Thursday, marking all regions of the province as Islamic State-free a few hours after the government declared victory over the militant group there.
Iraqi Mawazin News Agency said the maps marked the province as totally liberated, shortly after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the recapture of Tal Afar town, the last militants’ hideout in Nineveh.
Iraqi government forces launched operations to retake Tal Afar on August 20th, and recently cornered the militants in Ayyadiya, in the northwest. They had recaptured Mosul, Islamic State’s former capital, east of Tal Afar, early July after three months of encounters.
The extremist group now holds a few remaining havens in Kirkuk, Anbar and Salahuddin provinces.
On Wednesday, the Joint Operations Command, which has led the operations against IS, said Kirkuk’s Hawija was the next target of anti-Islamic State offensives.
Iraqi forces, backed by a United States-led coalition and paramilitary troops, have been battling the group since 2014, when Islamic State’s supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the establishment of a “caliphate” rule in Iraq and Syria. Baghdadi’s whereabouts remain a mystery, with conflicting reports regarding his survival made occasionally.