Iraqi forces have captured a prominent shrine revered by Shia Muslims in Iraq’s northern Tal Afar district from the Daesh terrorist group, a top army commander said Friday.
“Army units, together with Hashd al-Shaabi fighters, have entirely liberated Tal Afar’s southern Al-Jazeera neighborhood, including the shrine of Khader Elias,” Army Lieutenant-General Abdul-Amir Yarallah, who is leading the campaign to retake the district, said in a statement.
Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led coalition, launched fresh military operations on Sunday aimed at decisively wresting Tal Afar from the grip of the terrorist group.
A largely Shia fighting force, the Hashd al-Shaabi was incorporated into the Iraqi army last year and now fights alongside regular army troops in the ongoing campaign to extirpate Daesh from the country.
“Army troops and Hashd fighters also stormed Tal Afar’s eastern Al-Mahlabiya neighborhood on Friday,” Police First Lieutenant Bahaa al-Mobahi told Anadolu Agency.
According to al-Mobahi, “fierce” clashes between Iraqi forces and Daesh terrorists remain ongoing in the area.
A predominantly Turkmen district, Tal Afar was overrun by Daesh in mid-2014, along with vast territories in northern and western Iraq.
Iraqi army troops, Federal Police units, counter-terrorism forces and Hashd al-Shaabi fighters are all taking part in the campaign to “liberate” the district.
In advance of the operation, the Iraqi army had amassed some 400,000 troops and personnel in preparation for retaking Tal Afar.