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Tal Afar fully liberated from IS: Iraqi military spokesman

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Updated: 04:20 GMT, Sep 2, 2017 | Published: 05:15 GMT, Sep 1, 2017 |
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The city of Tal Afar has been fully liberated from the Islamic State (IS) group after a battle that lasted 11 days, an Iraqi military spokesman said on Thursday.

Tal Afar, located in the northern Nineveh Governorate, was one of the last cities under IS control since the militant group overran nearly a third of Iraq three years ago. Its liberation marks a further sign that IS’s days of administering territory in Iraq is coming to a close.

The offensive to retake Tal Afar began on Aug. 20, with Iraqi forces advancing on multiple fronts toward the city center.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said that government forces have also retaken control of the al-Ayadia district, northwest of Tal Afar, which means that the whole of Nineveh Governorate is now free of IS militants.

“We had planned to open multiple fronts in the offensive and advance on multiple axes against IS. We arrived in the city center within just two days and liberated the urban area within eight days. This offensive was different from the Mosul offensive, which was more of a larger scale. We have had a lot of experience in combat. This time, we surrounded Tal Afar and launched airstrikes against IS and managed to reduce the extremists’ fighting capability by more than 90 percent,” said Rasool.

The relatively quick victory in Tal Afar, which comes on the heels of months of bloody battles for Mosul – Iraq’s second-largest city, was not surprising given that the city had wider streets and fewer trapped civilians, according to the spokesman.

He said the government forces will continue to push ahead to the south of Nineveh.

“After the liberation of Tal Afar, we will continue advancing toward other remaining areas in Iraq, including the upstream of the Euphrates River in western Anbar Governorate and the Hawija district in southern Kirkuk Governorate. The joint forces have made plans and will continue with military operations in these areas in order to liberate them [from IS],” said Rasool.

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