Video: Iraqi forces make advances against the ISIS militants in Tal Afar on August 27, 2017.
TAL AFAR, Iraq – The Iraqi army has announced that their forces are now in full control of the city of Tal Afar, just eight days after the launch of the operation against ISIS militants.
Lt. Gen. Abdulamir Rashid Yaralla, commander of the Tal Afar operation, stated that the Iraqi forces liberated al-Askari neighborhood, the northern industrial area and some other areas in northern Tal Afar Sunday, as well as al-Rahma village.
He said with the advances made today, “The entire neighborhoods of the capital city of Tal Afar district have been liberated,” the Iraqi commander said.
The Iraqi army and the mainly Shiite-Hashd al-Shaabi took part in the operation.
ISIS militants captured Tal Afar about three years ago as they also controlled large areas in both Iraq and Syria.
He added that the ISIS militants are still in control of al-A'ayaziyah sub-district, some 11 km northwest of Tal Afar and its surrounding villages, stating that the Iraqi army is now marching toward the sub-district.
Meanwhile, Hashd media said in a statement that the army’s 16th division have launched an attack on A'ayaziyah sub-district from the southeastern front, and have since liberated two villages.
Falah Fayaz, Iraq’s National Security Advisor and also the head of the Hashd board, commended the contribution of the Hashd saying that they feel “honored” to have played their part.
Rudaw’s Ahmed Hunar reported from Tal Afar Sunday that the city’s streets and districts seem to be empty of civilians.
Ahmed, who covered the Mosul offensive extensively, said that the Tal Afar operation is very different since the ISIS group did not put up much resistance. He said he toured the city for about four hours without seeing ISIS bodies in the city, a stark contrast to Mosul where the extremist group fought the advancing Iraqi army for about nine months leaving many casualties from both sides, as well civilians.
Video: Rudaw video shows Iraqi forces in Tal Afar on August 27, 2017.
Initial estimates put the number of ISIS militants at about 2,000.
The UN said before the launch of the operation last Sunday that there were up to 50,000 civilians left in Tal Afar.
The army stated Saturday they took control of the historic citadel in the centre of Tal Afar and captured three more neighborhoods.
Lt. Gen. Yarallah announced Saturday that the Federal Police and Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi liberated the neighborhoods of Qadisiya1, Qadisiya2, and Rabiaa in northwestern Tal Afar.
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.
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 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 served as a key ISIS route between Iraq and Syria since 2014 and was the last major centre in northwestern Iraq still controlled by the terrorist group.