Iraqi Forces Lay Siege on ISIL in 1st Day of Tal Afar Liberation Operation
The Iraqi units and Hashd al-Shaabi won four hills in the Southern direction of Tal Afar and trapped ISIL in a circle of their forces.
Also, the Iraqi pro-government forces took control of the village of Tal al-Saban West of Tal Afar.
In the meantime, the Iraqi Federal Police forces, backed up by Hashd al-Shaabi, liberated Abrah al-Najar, Abrah Hanash, al-Abrah al-Saqirah and al-Abrah al-Kabirah regions in Western direction of Tal Afar.
The Iraqi police also pushed ISIL out of the villages of Qazal Qi’yu and Kasar Mehrab Southeast of Tal Afar.
The Iraqi forces have ended their mop-up operation successfully in the villages of Batisheh, al-Alam, Khafajeh, Halbiyeh al-Oliya, Tal al-Masbak and the Southern part of Zambar mountains East of Tal Afar.
The Iraqi forces have, meantime, cut off the ISIL’s supply line from Tal Afar to al-Mahalbiyeh.
The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV reported that five ranking members of the military council of ISIL commanders are now in Tal Afar.
Earlier reports said that the Iraq’s military launched a military operation to liberate the city of Tal Afar, West of Mosul, in Nineveh province from ISIL terrorist group.
“You either surrender, or die,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a televised address.
“As we announce the start of operations to liberate Tal Afar we salute the heroic Iraqi forces who fight to bring victory, freedom and peace,” Abadi added on Twitter.
Iraqi government forces were deployed in four areas at the start of the ground offensive, while they allegedly cut all escape routes in and out of Tal Afar. The Iraqi air force also intensified its airstrikes on Takfiri terrorists in Tal Afar prior to the ground operation.
According to reports, About 2,000 battle-hardened militants remain in the city.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that about up to 40,000 people are left in and around Tal Afar and militants are “preventing people from escaping, as it did in West Mosul, by shooting at families attempting to flee.”
Also, some 50,000 people have fled the areas surrounding Tal Afar in recent months.
Spokesman for the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) had announced that thousands of pro-government fighters are also going to participate in the military operation to retake the Northern city of Tal Afar.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on Friday, Ahmed al-Asadi said 20,000 volunteer forces, commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Shabi, will take part in the battle for Tal Afar.
Last November, the Iraqi Parliament approved a law giving full legal status to Hashd al-Shabi fighters. It recognized the PMU as part of the national armed forces, placed the volunteer fighters under the command of the Prime Minister, and granted them the right to receive salaries and pensions like the regular army and police forces.
Tal Afar has remained one of the last large ISIL’s strongholds in Iraq, as the liberation of the city will signify a large victory in the fight against terrorism.
Tal Afar has been under ISIL’s control since mid-2014, when the Takfiri terrorists captured the town. Before the seizure, it was home to 750,000 people. Many civilians still reside in the city.
The Iraqi Army announced in July 10 that Baghdad forces has recaptured the key town of Mosul, ISIL’s de facto capital in the Arab country, after 9-month of bloody battle with the Takfiri terrorists in Nineveh province.