Iraqi Forces Advance on IS-Held Tal Afar

US builds military base in Iraq for Tal Afar offensive
US builds military base in Iraq for Tal Afar offensive
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21 August, 2017

"You either surrender or die", warned Mr al-Abadi in a televised speech.

Tal Afar is 35 miles west of Mosul, the city recaptured last month from the Islamic State by Iraqi troops who were backed by a USA -led force.

Members of the Kurdish Workers' Party and USA forces have joined the Iraqi military in the battle, according to Member of the Parliament of the Regional Administration of Iraqi Kurdistan Aydin Maruf.

Weeks after recapturing Mosul in a major blow to the jihadists, convoys of Iraqi forces around Tal Afar began pounding IS positions from three sides at dawn Sunday.

Some parts, including small towns and mountain areas, remain under Islamic State control, especially along the border. Even before Abadi's announcement, Iraqi planes had dropped leaflets to residents in Tal Afar and its surroundings, the Hashed said in a statement.

Iraqi Federal Police members hold an Islamic State flag which they pulled down during fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq July 4, 2017.

IS's self-proclaimed "caliphate" in effect collapsed last month, when US-backed Iraqi forces completed the takeover of the militants' capital in Iraq - Mosul - after a nine-month campaign.

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"Prepare yourself, the battle is imminent and the victory is coming", they read.

Despite intelligence indicating that the militants are low on supplies after months of aerial bombardments, retaking the city, which had a population of 200,000 is expected to be challenging.

Tal Afar is the last IS redoubt in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh.

Coalition officials estimate that 10,000 to 50,000 civilians remain in and around Tal Afar, the task force statement said, and the coalition applies rigorous standards to its targeting process and takes "extraordinary efforts" to protect noncombatants.

"Their faces looked desperate and broken".

Dozens of air strikes from the US-led coalition preceded the attack. The strategically located Tal Afar was extensively used by the Isis to travel between Iraq and Syria until the links were cut off during the Mosul operation.


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