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Islamic State’s Stronghold Tal Afar About To Fall

A member of Shia Popular Mobilization Forces flags victory sign during clashes against IS militants in Tal Afar, Iraq on August 26.A member of Shia Popular Mobilization Forces flags victory sign during clashes against IS militants in Tal Afar, Iraq on August 26.

Iraqi forces are about to take full control of Tal Afar, the self-styled Islamic State’s stronghold in northwestern Iraq, in a swift campaign against the outnumbered, exhausted militants, an Iraqi military spokesman said on Saturday.

The quick collapse of IS in Tal Afar, a breeding ground for militant groups in Iraq, confirmed Iraqi military reports that the militants lack command and control structures in the areas west of Mosul, Reuters reported.

Up to 2,000 militants were believed to be defending Tal Afar when the campaign to take back the city started on Aug. 20. The attacking forces were estimated at 50,000, according to western military sources.

“Tal Afar city is about to fall completely into the hands of our forces, only five percent remains” under Islamic State’s control, a military spokesman told Reuters.

“God willing, the remaining part will be liberated soon,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said earlier at a news conference with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and French Defense Minister Florence Parly, in Baghdad.

Tal Afar lies on the supply route between Syria and the former IS stronghold of Mosul, 80 km (50 miles) to the east.

The elite Counter Terrorism Service “liberated the citadel neighborhood … and raised the Iraqi flag on top of the citadel building,” a statement from the Iraqi joint operations command said.

Much of the Ottoman-era citadel itself was destroyed by the militants at the end of 2014.

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