Displaced Speak Of Life under Isis As Iraqi Forces Prepare To Retake Tal Afar
Five weeks after securing victory in Mosul, Iraqi forces have moved into positions around the city of Tal Afar, their next objective in the U.S.-backed campaign to defeat Islamic State (ISIS) militants, Iraqi military commanders say.
A longtime stronghold of hardline Sunni insurgents, Tal Afar, 50 miles (80 km) west of Mosul, was cut off from the rest of the ISIS-held territory in June.
The city is surrounded by Iraqi government troops and Shia volunteers in the south, and Peshmerga forces in the north.
Waves of civilians have fled the city and surrounding villages under cover of darkness for weeks now, although several thousand are estimated to remain, threatened with death by the militants who have held a tight grip there since 2014.
Residents who have been displaced to Salamiyah Camp spoke of fleeing in the middle of the night to avoid the militants, who shot anyone caught trying to escape.
“The situation over there is dire. They have no food, water or drink over there. They are waiting for the security forces to arrive today before tomorrow,” a displaced man from Tal Afar said.
The United Nation's International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that about 10,000 to 40,000 people are left in Tal Afar and surrounding villages. Iraqi commanders say the number of people left inside the city itself, including militants and their families, is closer to 5,000.