Smoke billows in the background past damaged vehicles as Iraqi forces, backed by the Hashd al-Shaabi units, advance inside the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul. Photo: Ahmed Al-Rubaye/AFP
The Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi force announced that their forces were able to liberate al-Mouthana and al-Salam neighborhoods in Tal Afar from ISIS.
The Hashd also announced that their forces together with the Iraqi army's 9th division liberated the al-Bouari area northwest of Tal Afar.
They have also taken control of the veterinary and agricultural centers in the city.
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.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi armed forces have announced the recapture of the historic citadel in the centre of Tal Afar and have driven ISIS militants out of three more neighborhoods of the largely Turkmen town on Saturday.
Iraqi forces announced their retaking of the centre of the city and the Ottoman-era citadel mid-day Saturday, according to AFP.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, commander of the ‘We are Coming Tal Afar’ offensive, announced the Federal Police and Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi liberated the neighborhoods of Qadisiya1, Qadisiya2, and Rabiaa in northwestern Tal Afar Saturday morning.
The operation, now closing out its first week, has liberated 70 percent of territory in the Tal Afar region, Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Saturday. Hundreds of ISIS militants are reported killed.
The War Media Cell also announced Friday evening that troops have reached the city center.
As of early Friday, Iraqi forces had recaptured al-Orouba 1, Nida', al-Nasr, Saad, and Taliaa around the Ottoman-era citadel, according to the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.
In addition, security investigation teams were able to discover two mass graves in Badoush containing the bodies of 500 prisoners killed by ISIS. One contained 30 and the other 470, according to a military statement.
Around Tal Afar, Iraqi forces have retaken some 30 villages, Rudaw’s correspondent on the ground Sidad Lashkiri reported on Friday.
The Hashd al-Shaabi announced that as of Friday, Iraqi bomb disposal teams had been able to clear 14 kilometres of explosives and bombs in the liberated areas of Tal Afar inside houses and on streets.
An estimated 10,000 to 50,000 civilians are believed to still be living under ISIS control in Tal Afar and the surrounding areas, according to coalition figures. The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported it received more than 3,000 civilians in the first days of the offensive with thousands more expected to flee. Many had only the clothes they were wearing. Some were severely malnourished after months of inadequate food supplies in the besieged city.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the commencement of operations by security forces to retake Tal Afar, which has a large Turkmen population as well as Arabs and Kurds.
The US-trained Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), Federal Police, the Rapid Response Force, Iraqi Army, and Hashd al-Shaabi are taking part in the operation with the backing of the coalition.
Tal Afar has served as a key ISIS route between Iraq and Syria since 2014 and is the last major centre in northwestern Iraq still controlled by the terrorist group.