Iraq announce Tal Afar and surrounding areas liberated from ISIS

A fighter waves an Iraqi flag as others behind flash the victory gesture, during the advance through the town of Tal Afar.

:: Iraq declared on Thursday that its forces had retaken the northern city of Tal Afar and the surrounding region in another major victory over ISIS militants

“Our happiness ISIS complete, victory has arrived and the province of Nineveh is now entirely in the hands of our forces,” said a statement from the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

It comes weeks after Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition ousted ISIS from second city Mosul, three years after the militants declared a self-styled “caliphate” straddling Iraq and war-torn Syria.

ISIS has lost much of the territory it controlled and thousands of its fighters have been killed since late 2014, when the coalition was set up to defeat the group.

ISIS fighters in Iraq now control only the city of Hawija, 300 kilometers north of Baghdad, and a few areas in the desert along the border with Syria.

The loss of Tal Afar, located between Mosul and the Syrian border, will deprive ISIS of what was once a significant hub for movement between the Syrian and Iraqi parts of the “caliphate”.

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