Iraqi forces battle on to centre of Tal Afar

Iraqi forces battle on to centre of Tal Afar
Iraqi forces have advanced deeper into Tal Afar and advanced closer to the town centre, making another step back for IS.
2 min read
24 August, 2017
Hashd al-Shaabi have advanced in the south-east [AFP]
Iraqi forces have pushed deeper into Tal Afar, seizing two districts from the Islamic State group stronghold close to Mosul.

The fourth day of the offensive saw pro-government forces take al-Kifah on the west of Tal Afar, moving closer to the town centre.

It came after a push from the south and east by army, paramilitary and counter-terrorism units, with Hashd al-Shaabi militias capturing several areas of eastern Tal Afar early Wednesday.

"Our morale is very high. We are confronting the men of IS, breaking their lines and destroying their arsenals," said Lieutenant-Colonel Monzer Abed, from the pro-government forces.

Around 2,000 IS fighters remain left in the city, which was once an important supply route for the group and remains one of their last strongholds in Iraq.

IS militants are attempting to hold back the pro-government force with booby-trapped improvised vehicles, snipers and road blocks.

The former Shia enclave saw much of its population murdered by jihadi militants who captured the town in 2014.

Human rights groups fear the Sunni population could now be victims of revenge attacks by Iraqi forces.

There are some 30,000 civilians caught in the middle. They are trapped in the town and particularly vulnerable from cross fire, being used as human shields by IS militants. Civilians caught trying to escape are executed.

Ahmed al-Assadi, spokesman for the Hashd al-Shaabi said the next phase should see his forces battling into the Ottoman-era town centre.

"All the lines of IS defence outside the city have been broken and the troops are advancing from all directions towards the inner quarters of the city," he told AFP.

Agencies contributed to this story.