Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) More than 50 percent of territory of the Islamic State-held town of Tal Afar had been recaptured by Iraqi forces, the Nineveh province council said Thursday as operations reach the heart of militants’ last entrenchment in the province.
“Tal Afar is one of the largest regions in Iraq, and the liberation efforts are proceeding faster than expected,” Abdul-Rahman al-Wakkaa, a member of the council, told Almaalomah news website. “Military forces have completed the recapture of all surrounding villages and reached the outskirts of the town’s center from the east and the west,” said the official.
Wakkaa predicted the troops to reach Tal Afar’s center within a few hours.
Operations by Iraqi government forces and allied paramilitary troops in Tal Afar have left 302 Islamic State militants dead and managed to recapture 31 areas, the Joint Operations Command said Thursday.
Those were the achievements on the field since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the start of operations to retake IS’s last stronghold in Nineveh on August 20th, according to the JOC’s spokesperson, Brig. Gen Yahia Rasoul.
Up to 2000 Islamic State fighters are believed to remain in Tal Afar, said Rasoul during a conference at the Defense Ministry’s office in Baghdad with Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesperson of the U.S.-led coalition against IS.