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Countdown begins for liberation of Iraq’s Tal Afar from Daesh grips

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Smoke billows out of the al-Ayadiya district, north of Tal Afar, as Iraqi forces advance during the ongoing operation to retake the area from Daesh terrorists on August 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi army soldiers, backed by allied fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, are gradually entering al-Ayadiya district in Tal Afar as they recapture more neighborhoods in their multi-pronged operation to dislodge Daesh Takfiri terrorists from the northern city.

According to reports, the Iraqi forces engaged in heavy fighting with Daesh Takfiris at the southern entrance to Ayadiya district, which lies 11 kilometers northwest of Tal Afar, on Tuesday and managed to strongly hit the terrorists’ bases.

Daesh terrorists fled to Ayadiya after being driven out of Tal Afar and appeared to be making a last stand, according to the spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC), Brigadier General Yahya Rasool.

Clearing operations; however, were continuing slowly in Ayadiya, the last Daesh stronghold in Tal Afar, due to the existence of many civilians in the district.

Rasool, announced in a statement on Sunday that army soldiers and volunteer fighters, commonly known by their Arabic name as Hashd al-Sha'abi, had liberated all 29 neighborhoods in the Tal Afar, located 63 kilometers west of Mosul.   

Following the liberation of Tal Afar, only the town of Hawijah, located 45 kilometers west of the northern Iraqi oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and desert areas along the border with Syria are remaining under Daesh control.

The commander of the Tal Afar liberation operation, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah, said on Sunday soldiers from the army's 9th Armored Division and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had reclaimed full control over al-Askari neighborhood, the industrial area and adjacent al-Rahma village.

Earlier, the Iraqi military said in a statement that Iraqi rapid response forces had ended their part in Tal Afar offensive, after recapture of three neighborhoods west of the city center.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi is expected to arrive in Tal Afar soon to announce its "liberation" from Daesh terrorists.

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