Tal Afar offensive will end IS’ military presence in Iraq: Coalition

The offensive to liberate Tal Afar from the Islamic State (IS) would end the group’s military presence in Iraq.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The offensive to liberate Tal Afar from the Islamic State (IS) would end the group’s military presence in Iraq, a coalition army official said on Wednesday.

Speaking live from Baghdad, British army Major General Rupert Jones briefed the Pentagon press corps about the progress against IS in the northern Iraqi city.

Jones said all the branches of the Iraqi security forces, including Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi, are involved in the operation to oust IS from its remaining pockets of territory in the north of the country.

Iraqi forces announced the beginning of the campaign to free Tal Afar, IS' last major stronghold in Iraq, from the extremist group in the early hours on Aug. 20. Early estimates put the number of militants in the city as high as 2,000.

“They’ve made a really positive start, but we should expect it to be a tough fight,” Jones noted.

“As always, the coalition will be there in support, providing equipment, training, intelligence, precision air and ground artillery fires, and combat advice,” the Maj. Gen. explained.

Jones said the coalition would “support [Iraqi forces] all the way” once Tal Afar was liberated, and once they begin freeing the remaining cities in Iraq under IS control such as Hawija. 

“The momentum is clearly with the Iraqi security forces, and they have the intent and capability to complete the military defeat of [IS] in Iraq,” he stated.

In Syria, a Kurdish-led offensive to free Raqqa from the militant group is ongoing, with the extremists being pressed on all sides.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are spearheading, are facing “heavy resistance” in Raqqa, the group's last remaining stronghold and de facto capital in the country, according to Jones.

Nevertheless, he noted, the Kurdish forces “are making incremental gains on multiple fronts, and [IS] fighters are suffering considerable losses.”

The coalition continues to provide air support to troops in Iraq and Syria as they advance on the ground.


Editing by G.H. Renaud