Iraqi forces recapture five villages in Tal Afar

Iraq launches battle for Tal Afar, IS bastion near Mosul

The Iraqi federal police has recaptured three villages in the west of Tel Afar from the Islamic State terror organisation as an offensive that was launched on Sunday began to deliver results. Many senior leaders al-Qaida in Iraq and IS were from Tal Afar. Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are surrounding the city in the north, while Iraqi government troops and Shi'ite volunteers surround it in the south.

Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi announced the Tal Afar offensive in a predawn televised speech Sunday, warning Daesh extremists that they had "no choice other than to leave or be killed".

Fighters from Popular Mobilization Units fire against the Daesh Takfiri militants on the outskirts of Tal Afar, Iraq, on August 20, 2017.

However, Tal Afar's urban landscape differs significantly from Mosul's confined quarters and passages, allowing Iraqi and coalition forces to use heavy artillery and target jihadists' positions from the air, without posing a danger to civilians.

USA forces are taking part in an ongoing military operation to dislodge the Daesh terrorist group from Iraq's northwestern Tal Afar district, according to an Iraqi military source.

The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, said civilians inside Tal Afar face "very tough" conditions, with short supplies of food, water and many basic necessities.

The Coalition estimates that approximately 10,000-50,000 civilians remain in and around Tal Afar.

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"It's smaller and there are fewer bad guys", said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top USA commander in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has warned that thousands fleeing the area are at risk, trekking for hours in extreme heat.

The extremists also still hold areas of the vast western desert province of Anbar, including Al Qaim area on the border with war-ravaged Syria.

"Victory is near" in Tal Afar, an "Iraqi city taken hostage and humiliated for years by attacks from these barbarians", he said.

As well as in Iraq, IS has suffered major setbacks in Syria, where US-backed fighters have retaken more than half of its de facto Syrian capital Raqa. It didn't take long for many to start suffering from dehydration, as they marched on toward safe areas.

The "operation to liberate Tal Afar is another important fight that must be won to ensure the country and its citizens are finally free of ISIS", the head of the anti-Daesh coalition Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said in a statement, using another acronym for Daesh.

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