Iraqi forces make fresh gains in Tal Afar against Islamic State

Iraqi forces make fresh gains in Tal Afar against Islamic State

In Iraq, government forces have retaken most of Tal Afar from Islamic State rebels.

Tal Afar, located 35 miles west of Mosul and on a road from Mosul to the Syrian border, has strategic importance as well a political significance.

The International Organization for Migration said "thousands of civilians" had fled Tal Afar since the offensive began.

Lt. Gen. Yarallah announced Saturday that the Federal Police and Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi liberated the neighborhoods of Qadisiya1, Qadisiya2, and Rabiaa in northwestern Tal Afar.

March 31, 2015: Tikrit falls to Iraqi forces, Islamic State's first major loss in Iraq and biggest setback since seizing swaths of territory across Iraq and Syria in 2014.

"All the lines of IS defence outside the city have been broken and the troops are advancing from all directions towards the inner quarters of the city", he added.




On Aug. 20, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, declared the start of an operation to retake control of Tal Afar and the nearby areas from IS militants.

Progress there has been far more rapid than in Mosul, Iraq's second city, which fell to Iraqi forces in July after a gruelling nine-month battle.

Between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians are estimated to remain in the city and its surrounding villages.

The soldiers and allied fighters also freed al-Salam and Hassan Koi neighborhoods in central Tal Afar. Several divisions of Iraqi security, including the American-trained counterterrorism forces, advanced on the city from different sides.

Meanwhile, Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, has raised concerns for the people trapped inside the city amid the intense fighting.

Tal Afar has given some of the dreaded IS terrorists. Tal Afar was cut off from the rest of Daesh-held territory in June.

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