Iraq says victory over IS in Tal Afar is near

Iraq says victory over IS in Tal Afar is near

Iraq says victory over IS in Tal Afar is near

Iraq's military said Saturday it has driven Islamic State militants out of 90 per cent of the northern town of Tal Afar and retaken the town centre.

Earlier in the day, members of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) liberated the neighborhood of al-Qal'a and Tal Afar Citadel in the center of the city and raised the Iraqi flags over a number of buildings in the area.

During their continued advance into Tal Afar, the Hashd forces discovered a "large prison" in the northern part of the city, containing the bodies of 18 people, the statement added.

After routing the jihadists from Iraq s second city Mosul in July following a gruelling nine-month-long battle, Iraqi forces launched an assault Sunday on Tal Afar, where an estimated 1,000 jihadists are holed up.

Tal Afar - which had a population of 200,000 before it fell to Isis in 2014 - is located some 80km west of Mosul, a major Isis stronghold in the country.

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Over the past weeks, the US-led coalition against IS has carried out dozens of airstrikes in Tal Afar and the surrounding areas, targeting command centers and ammunition caches.

"Tal Afar city is about to fall completely into the hands of our forces, only five percent remains [under IS control]", the military spokesperson told Reuters.

Al-Jaafari spoke during a news conference with his French counterpart.

Several villages north of Tal Afar have yet to be retaken, the statement said. The district has produced some of the armed group's most senior commanders.

Iraqi defense officials say about 10,000 civilians remain inside the city. Those remaining were threatened with death by the militants, according to aid organizations and residents who managed to leave.

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