Iraqi forces free three Tal Afar neighbourhoods

Iraqi forces said on Thursday (24 August) that they have "completely surrounded" Isis fighters in the northern city of Tal Afar, where a fresh anti-Isis battle began earlier in the week.

On Sunday، the Iraqi government launched a major offensive to retake Tal Afar، which involves army troops، Federal Police units، counter-terrorism forces and fighters from the Hashd al-Shaabi (a largely Shia force incorporated into the Iraqi army last year). Clashes were ongoing on the northern outskirts and Iraqi forces were dealing with the final pockets of resistance inside the city, he added.

Iraq's foreign minister says Iraqi military forces have taken 70 percent of the Islamic State holdout town of Tal Afar.

Tal Afar lies along the supply route between Syria and the former ISIL stronghold of Mosul, about 80 kilometres to the east.

Iraq's state-run TV aired live footage showing pillars of smoke rising in the distance as military vehicles traveled through wide, arid areas.

Tal Afar has always been a stronghold for hard-line Sunni insurgents.

Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman of the USA -led coalition, told reporters ISIS fighters were "completely surrounded" in Tal Afar with their resources drying out, as their defeat nears. The UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported it received more than 3,000 civilians in the first days of the offensive with thousands more expected to flee.

The group is also retreating in Syria, where it is facing two separate offensives, one backed by the US and the other by Russian Federation and Iran. Those remaining are threatened with death by ISIL, according to aid organisations and residents who managed to flee.

  • Jon Douglas