Iraqi commander Abu Walid (center in uniform) meets Kurdish officials in Shangal after his troops pulled out of Tel Afar, June 22. Photo: Rudaw
SHANGAL, Kurdistan Region—According to top Kurdish officials in Nineveh province the last units of the Iraqi army fighting in Tel Afar pulled out of the town on Sunday and headed to the Kurdish-controlled areas further east.
“After nearly a week of fighting in Tel Afar airbase, eventually, Abu Walid the commander of the Nineveh operations known as ‘Maliki's Lion’ withdrew and arrived at Shangal,” said Sarbast Bapiri, head of the 17th Branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Shangal.
The fall of Tel Afar airbase marks the end of the last Iraqi resistance against the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Nineveh where both sides were locked in a fierce battle for more than a week.
“Abu Walid and the 10th brigade of the 3rd division that had 600 Iraqi troops and 60 military vehicles handed themselves over to Peshmerga forces in Shangal,” Bapiri told Rudaw.
According to Bapiri, the Iraqi defense ministry could not deliver food and ammunitions to its besieged troops in Tel Afar, who could not continue the fight anymore and had to withdraw.
With his withdrawal to the Kurdish areas, Abu Walid joined several other Iraqi top military commanders who abandoned their posts at the outbreak of the war and returned to Baghdad via the Kurdistan Region.
In the last 24 hours, Tel Afar became the fourth Iraqi town to fall to ISIS militants, including the strategic border crossing of Qaim, Rawa, Ana and Husaybah in Anbar province.
The multiethnic town of Tel Afar is home to many Shiite families whom the Iraqi army tried to protect by sending several hundred troops, however its proximity to Mosul—the ISIS power-base—the troops were the eventually outnumbered and outgunned, leading to their complete withdrawal.