ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The United Nation’s humanitarian aid coordinator for Iraq on Tuesday said preparations are underway to evacuate civilians ahead of an offensive in Tal Afar.
Lise Grande, the UN’s aid coordinator for Iraq, said the organization was briefed about military “mustering points” and planned evacuation routes, the Associated Press reported.
The UN representative also said aid workers were moving to areas near Hawija in the Kirkuk Province as well as the western Anbar Province.
Iraqi officials have previously stated campaigns to liberate the areas from the Islamic State (IS) will begin once the Tal Afar operation is concluded.
According to the Iraqi Defense Ministry, the Iraqi army and affiliated forces are combat-ready and awaiting the official launch of the operation to free the city.
Tal Afar, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Mosul, is one of the remaining cities in Iraq still under IS control.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant-General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces said the duration of the fight against the extremists in the city was “not a concern” for the troops.
The Lieutenant-General compared the layout of the area to the recent offensive in Mosul and said he expects the battle to be “easier.”
“The plan will focus on ensuring the safety of civilians as well as our troops ahead of the liberation,” Saadi explained.
The US-led coalition also confirmed it would continue to support Iraqi forces with air strikes as they prepare their advance in the city.
Editing by Ava Homa