Hashid Al-Shaabi Says Fighters Enter First Neighborhood of Tal Afar
Hashid al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) said its fighters entered the first neighborhood of Tal Afar on Tuesday (August 22), as the Iraqi forces backed by Coalition forces continue for the third consecutive day their push into the areas of the last Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold in Nineveh.
Hashid al-Shaabi released a statement saying the group’s fighters advanced from western side of Tal Afar on Tuesday morning and entered the city.
Hashid al-Shaabi fighters have surrounded the ISIS-held city of Tal Afar in the southeastern front of Tal Afar after they liberated several villages, the statement added.
Iraqi troops also liberated scores of villages at the outskirts of Tal Afar. Iraqi forces managed to destroy the front lines of the Islamic state according to Iraqi commanders.
Iraqi security forces launched an offensive to take back the city of Tal Afar on Sunday (August 20), their next objective in the U.S.-backed campaign to defeat ISIS militants, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said.
A long-time stronghold of hardline Sunni Muslim insurgents, Tal Afar, 50 miles (80 km) west of Mosul in Iraq's far north, experienced cycles of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shia Muslims after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and it has produced some of Islamic State's most senior commanders.
The city was cut off from the rest of ISIS-held territory in June. It is surrounded by Iraqi government troops and Shia volunteers in the south, and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the north.
The United Nation's International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that some 10,000 to 40,000 people are still living in the town of Tal Afar and surrounding areas.
ISIS’ self-proclaimed "caliphate" effectively collapsed last month, when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces completed the takeover of the militants' capital in Iraq, Mosul, after a nine-month campaign
Beyond Tal Afar, the city with about 200,000 residents before falling to ISIS, the militants still controls other pockets of territory in Iraq, including the town of Hawija and the surrounding area.