Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi on Thursday announced that the Iraqi military had “entirely liberated the district of Tal Afar, Daesh’s last stronghold in Nineveh province”.
“Steadfast Tal Afar has joined liberated Mosul [Nineveh’s provincial capital] and returned to the homeland,” al-Abadi said in a statement broadcast on Iraqi state television.
“Within the past few days, the terrorists have been neutralized in [Tal Afar’s] Al-Ayadieh neighborhood and other areas,” he added. “Our forces gave them no quarter.”
He went on to exhort the terrorist group: “Die or surrender.”
Earlier Thursday, an Iraqi military source told Anadolu Agency that Iraqi forces had captured the Al-Ayadieh district, Daesh’s last stronghold in Tal Afar.
“The Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi fighters entirely liberated Al-Ayadieh on Thursday morning after two days of heavy fighting,” Colonel Ahmed al-Jubouri, commander of the army’s Nineveh Operations Command, said.
A largely Shia fighting force, the Hashd al-Shaabi was incorporated into the Iraqi armed forces last year.
Iraqi warplanes, al-Jubouri said, “are now in the process of pursuing Daesh militants fleeing into the mountains or towards the Rabia and Sinjar districts”.
The army officer did not provide any casualty numbers in regards to the days-long fight to retake the district.
Earlier this month, Iraqi forces — backed by a U.S.-led coalition — waged a 10-day campaign to wrest Tal Afar from the grip of the terrorist group.
On Sunday, the Iraqi authorities announced Tal Afar’s recapture — with the exception of Al-Ayadieh, which became Daesh’s last foothold in the city.
Located 60 kilometers east of the Syrian border, the predominantly Turkmen city of Tal Afar was overrun by the terrorist group in mid-2014 along with large territories in northern and western Iraq.
Lieutenant-General Stephen Townsend, commander of the US-led coalition, described the recapture of Tal Afar as “another significant achievement” for Iraq’s military.
“Following their historic liberation of Mosul and now a swift and decisive victory in Tal Afar, [the Iraqi security forces] have shown, once again, they are an increasingly capable force that can protect the Iraqi people, defeat ISIS [Daesh] within Iraq, and secure the country’s borders,” Townsend said in a Thursday statement.