Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tal Afar Battle Day 11


The battle for Ayadiyah, which is a sub-district of Tal Afar got to the point where the Iraqi forces (ISF) were making widely different claims about their progress. First, Tal Afar We Are Coming commander General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah told the press that east Ayadiyah had been liberated by the Federal Police and Rapid Reaction units. The general then went on to say that 40% of the Ayadiyah district was freed. Then the Federal Police chief General Raed Shakir Jawadat upped that to 90% of the area was under government control. Finally, the Hashd said that the entire sub-district was now cleared. In these types of situations, it is always difficult to tell how honest the ISF are being because they have such a high propensity to exaggerate their achievements. The day before they were talking about how intense the fighting was with on army officer comparing it to the Old City. Then the next day the defenders collapsed. It will take the next day or two to tell what the real situation is.

Al Araby shed more light on what happened in Tal Afar. Before the campaign started Tal Afar was considered an important base for the Islamic State in Ninewa, especially given its history of being a way station for foreign fighters coming from Syria and it being the home of some prominent IS leaders. During the battle for the town the Golden Division’s General Sami al-Aridhi was quoted that the “enemy’s back is broken.” Then it turned out there were only a few hundred IS elements there. One reason was that the 16th Division left open a corridor to the north to Ayadiyah for them to flee. The ISF did this in other campaigns such as Fallujah to expedite the seizure of territory by encouraging the insurgents to leave. Another revelation was that Tal Afar was more of a warehouse and bomb factory for the insurgents than any kind of strategic location for the Islamists. There were also few residents. Estimates were that up to 200,000 inhabited the town. Only around 40,000 were there when the Iraqis started bombing it and almost that entire population fled.

SOURCES

AIN, “URGENT The popular crowd: the liberation of Ayadiyah in full,” 8/30/17

BBC, “Iraqi troops face fierce IS resistance near Tal Afar,” 8/30/17

Browne, Gareth, “Defeating IS in Tal Afar: An empty victory?” Al Araby, 8/29/17

Al Ghad Press, “Tal Afar: Freed the eastern part of Ayadiyah and the village of Qabak north of the area,” 8/30/17

Iraq Newspaper, “Iraq Reporter In Tal Afar: Yarallah Al-Lami: We Liberated 40% of Ayadiyah,” 8/30/17

Iraqi Broadcasting Networks, “Jawadat: Federal Police Forces Recaptured 90% of Ayadiyah In Tal Afar,” 9/30/17

Rudaw, “Iraqi forces face strong ISIS resistance north of Tal Afar,” 8/30/17

Xinhua, “Iraqi forces recapture 40 percent of IS-held town near Tal Afar,” 8/30/17

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