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Iraqi forces start offensive to take back IS-held city of Tal Afar

Sunday, August 20, 2017 - 02:02

Iraqi security forces launched on Sunday (August 20) an offensive to take back the city of Tal Afar, their next objective in the U.S.-backed campaign to defeat Islamic State militants. Report by Pascale Davies.

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"You either surrender or die" - Iraq's Prime Minister delivers his message to the Islamic State group. Announcing a new ground offensive, supported by the U.S., to take back Tal Afar - one of the last cities in the country be held by the militants. A long-time stronghold of hardline Sunni insurgents, Tal Afar, 50 miles west of Mosul, was cut off from the rest of the Islamic State-held territory in June. U.S. and Iraqi military commanders say about 2,000 battle-hardened militants remain in the city. Hours before Prime Minister Abadi's statement, the Iraqi air force dropped leaflets over the city warning civilians to "prepare" for the latest assault. Many people have already fled the city over the past few weeks, leading aid groups to believe there won't be a huge exodus. The United Nations estimates 10- 40,000 people remain in Tal Afar and surrounding villages. Those who have left told Reuters that Islamic State militants looked worn out and demoralised. It's hardly surprising after the group lost it's grip over Mosul - the largest city to have fallen under I.S.'s control - which Iraq's government declared victory over in July after a nine month battle. But a colonel told Reuters it won't be as hard as Mosul - as Tal Afar has wide streets which will allow tanks easy passage. Only one part of the city is comparable to Mosul's old city, where Iraqi troops were forced to advance on foot through narrow streets, moving house-to-house in a battle that resulted in the near total destruction of the historic district.

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Iraqi forces start offensive to take back IS-held city of Tal Afar

Sunday, August 20, 2017 - 02:02