Some 40,000 Iraqi troops are preparing for military operations to retake the Iraqi town of Tal Afar from Daesh, the Anadolu Agency reported.
Iraqi authorities have announced that the town, located 80 kilometres west of Mosul, will be the next target in the war against Daesh following the recapture of Mosul.
Tal Afar, which had a population of 200,000, has seen intense aerial bombardment to clear the way for ground troops to retake the town completely. At dawn today US planes stepped up air raids ahead of a ground offensive to drive out the 1,500-2,000 Daesh fighters currently in the area.
Following the announcement, armoured and elite units were said to be heading towards the Tal Afar which is some 70 kilometres from the Turkish border.
A coalition of different security personnel that includes the police, the military and various fighting units has gathered according to Iraqi military officials. Disputes regarding the participation of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, a state-sponsored umbrella organisation composed of some 40 militias that have been accused of committing numerous human rights abuse on the battlefield, have not been resolved.
Turkey, which has a close affinity with Tal Afar’s predominantly ethnic Turkmen population, opposes the involvement of Shia paramilitary groups fighting with Iraqi forces, some of which are also backed by Iran. The sight of the build-up of troops not too far from the Turkish border may cause further irritation to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has previously said that the involvement of Shia militia was a “red-line”.