The U.S. backed Iraqi Security Forces retook the city of Tal-Afar from the Islamic State Sunday after just an eight day battle.
The stunning victory is the first major operation for the Iraqi Security Forces since retaking the city of Mosul in late June and may be a sign that the terrorist group’s command and control structures are collapsing within Iraq. The city of Tal-Afar is famous within ISIS for spawning many of its most senior military leadership, including its leader Abu Bakr Al-Bagdadi.
The city was also one of the last ferrying points for ISIS fighters between Iraq and Syria, U.S. Army Col. John Dillon told Pentagon reporters on Aug. 16.
Tal-Afar was in the hands of the terrorist group for nearly three years but lacked the large civilian population seen in Mosul. U.S. backed operations to retake the city of Mosul took nearly 10 months due to the nearly 2 million civilians inside the city at the time the battle began. ISIS frequently uses human shields and civilian cover to its advantage in order to deter U.S. and Iraqi airstrikes.
Iraqi Security Forces will continue on to the remaining ISIS strongholds within the country. “It’s not over yet. There’s hard fighting ahead,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned reporters on Aug 22.
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