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Tal Afar: Iraqi forces resume at the EI downtown

Ⓒ AFP – AHMAD AL-RUBAYE – | Army and paramilitary units of Hashd al-Chaabi advance in Tal Afar, 23 August 2017

Iraqi forces announced on Saturday that they had retaken control of the Tal Afar center, home to the Ottoman citadel of the northern city, one of the last strongholds of the Islamic State (IS) organization in Iraq.

“The counter-terrorism units (CTS) have liberated the Citadel and Bassatine neighborhoods in Tal Afar and have hoisted the Iraqi flag on the citadel,” General Abdelamir Yarallah, The battle of Tal Afar.

Following these advances, the federal police and the STCs announced that they had completed the mission entrusted to them. These forces, which operated from the western front and the southern front, “completed their mission in the operation for Tal Afar,” General Yarallah added.

But he said fighting continued to resume al-Ayadieh, a locality north of Tal Afar, and its surroundings as well as the latest pockets of jihadist resistance in the city.

Iraqi forces are now on the verge of taking away one of the last strongholds of the IE in the country, pounded for weeks by Iraqi planes and the international coalition anti-EI led by the United States.

Ⓒ AFP – Simon MALFATTO – | Map of Tal Afar in Iraq showing the areas controlled by the forces on 24 August.

On Saturday, Iraqi forces also returned to al-Salam and al-Uruba (north-east), al-Qadissia (north-west) and al-Rabie, which borders the citadel to the west. The day before, they had reconquered the districts al-Nasr (east), Saad (west) and al-Taliaa, which borders the citadel to the south.

Tal Afar, which counted some 200,000 inhabitants before the entry of the EI, is strategic in the offensive against the IE in both Iraq and Syria. It was, in particular, a point of passage and transport of the self-proclaimed “Caliphate” into arms and men.

Once the city is resumed, Baghdad intends to launch the offensive on Hawija, 300 km north of Baghdad. The IA is also still present in the western province of Al-Anbar and holds several areas along the Syrian border, including the desert Al-Qaim region.

In Syria and Iraq, however, the EI has lost large parts of its “caliphate” and, experts note, thousands of fighters, who are now struggling to compensate for the contingents of foreign jihadists.

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