Iraqi jets bomb Islamic State stronghold ahead of ground assault

Marsha Scott
August 21, 2017

Earlier in the day, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the start of an operation to retake control of the northern town Tal Afar from IS militants. Abadi said that Iraq's Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary forces would help army, police and counter-terrorism units to retake Tal Afar.

A longtime stronghold of Daesh, Tal Afar - 50 miles (80 kilometres) west of Mosul - was cut-off from the rest of the Daesh-held territory in June.

Once Tal Afar recovery, the iraqi authorities intend to then launch the assault on the city of Hawija in the Kirkuk province, 300 km north of Baghdad.

As each time the assault is launched by the iraqi forces, supported by the worldwide coalition, anti-jihadists, M. Abadi, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, spoke at the television, dressed in a military uniform black.

Weeks after recapturing Mosul in a major blow to the jihadists, convoys of Iraqi forces around Tal Afar began pounding IS positions from three sides at dawn Sunday.

There are between 10,000 to 40,000 people left in the city, which had a pre-war population of about 200,000, the United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimated.

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On August 18, senior US military leaders said the Iraqi forces were preparing to launch the drive on Tal Afar after completing the bloody nine-month battle to force IS from the major northern city of Mosul. US-backed Iraqi forces completed the takeover of Mosul after a brutal nine-month campaign.

"Prepare yourself, the battle is imminent and the victory is coming, God willing", the leaflets read.

"Their faces looked desperate and broken".

The U.S. -led coalition providing air and other support to the troops praised what it said was a "capable, formidable, and increasingly professional force".

The Shi'ite Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) confirmed they are also taking part in the battle. It was one of the first waystations in Iraq for foreign fighters pouring into the country from Syria, and later became an important hub for supplies moving between the militants' two largest holdings, Raqqa in Syria and Mosul.It was also the home town of a number of the Iraqi Islamic State's senior figures.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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