A high-ranking Iraqi military commander says more than 300 Daesh Takfiri terrorists have been killed and tens of districts liberated ever since army soldiers, backed by allied fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, launched a multi-pronged operation to retake the northern city of Tal Afar.
The spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC), Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told a press conference in Baghdad on Thursday that Iraqi soldiers together with fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi, and members of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) have managed to regain control over 31 districts between August 20 and August 23, Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network reported.
Rasool added that Iraqi forces and their allies have killed 302 Daesh terrorists, destroyed 33 car bombs, 15 militant positions, 35 underground tunnels and 19 mortar launchers. They have defused 752 improvised explosive devices and cleared seven booby-trapped houses as well, he said.
The remarks came as the media bureau of Hashd al-Sha’abi announced in a statement that volunteer fighters and security forces had wrested complete control over al-Jazeera region east of Tal Afar, located 63 kilometers west of Mosul.
Separately, the media bureau of Iraq’s Badr Organization stated that the pro-government forces had liberated Jolaq junction in Tal Afar, and raised the national flag over the Directorate of Education building.
The commander of the Tal Afar liberation operation, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah, also said that soldiers from the 37th Infantry Brigade, 9th Armored Division and fighters from the 11th Brigade of Hashd al-Sha’abi have liberated al-Nour al-Oula neighborhoods from the clutches of Daesh Takfiris, and made advances through al-Nasr area.
Moreover, fighters from the 26th Brigade of Hashd al-Sha’abi have recaptured Khader Elias hilltop south of Tal Afar.
Also on Thursday, Hashd al-Sha’abi forces seized Daesh’s self-proclaimed “Education Bureau of the Nineveh State” in al-Wahda neighborhood northeast of Tal Afar, and liberated al-Khadra district east of Tal Afar following two days of heavy clashes with Daesh Takfiris.
Later in the day, Iraqi army soldiers and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters reclaimed al-Wahda neighborhood, and are now moving towards al-Rabi’ neighborhood.
The International Organization for Migration said in a statement on Tuesday that nearly 3,200 individuals had fled Tal Afar to two refugee camps south of Mosul over the past four days.
“These internally displaced persons carried a minimal amount of clothes; some only had what they wore, some were partially clothed,” the statement said, adding that thousands more are expected to flee in the coming days.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says it has received around 1,500 families, or some 9,000 people, from Tel Afar at the Hamman al-Alil displacement camp in the past week.
The UN refugee agency also says it is making preparations to accommodate around 30,000 more refugees from the city within the next few days.