Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tal Afar Battle Day 2


The Iraqi forces (ISF) continued to advance on Tal Afar from five directions. In the west, the Federal Police and Hashd moved 19 kilometers into the Tal Afar district. A police major claimed they were only a few meters from reaching the town itself. According to Joint Operations Command spokesman General Yahya Rasool six villages were captured during the day. The Golden Division moving from the southwest entered the first neighborhood of the town. The Tal Afar district is not that big. Most of it is open plain providing little cover for the Islamic State. There is only one built up area of the town itself where the streets are narrow and the houses densely packed. The environment favors the ISF who have an overwhelming force along with air and artillery cover.

On the Islamic State’s side, they were setting oil wells on fire to try to obstruct aerial views of their positions. It has employed this tactic many times before. Kataib al-Hamza of the Hashd reported that insurgents were escaping towards western Anbar via the Jazeera desert. Tal Afar has been surrounded by the Hashd since the end of 2016, and the army and police added their forces to the cordon over the last month. The veracity of such stories is hard to determine. Either the ISF have holes in their lines, which IS is exploiting or the Hashd are just posting propaganda that the militants are broken, and trying to run away. That’s been a theme since the Mosul campaign. The nine-months it took to take the city proved that IS is far from giving up even though they have no way of winning these battles.

SOURCES

Baghdad Post, “Huge number of ISIS commanders escape from Tal Afar to Anbar’s Rawa,” 8/21/17
- “ISIS terrorists set fire to oil wells in Tal Afar,” 8/21/17

Bas News, “The Anti-Terrorism Service penetrates into the first neighborhoods of Tal Afar,” 8/21/17
- “Tal Afar: Iraqi Forces make Further Territorial Gains against IS,” 8/21/17

BBC, “IS conflict: Iraq army makes advances on Tal Afar,” 8/21/17

Al Ghad Press, “The popular crowd and the army are advancing towards the center of Tal Afar district,” 8/21/17

Iraq News Agency, “Tal Afar We Are Coming: liberated 12 villages during the operation,” 8/21/17

Iraqi Broadcasting Network, “Jawadat: Security Forces Penetrate 19 Kilometers West Of Tal Afar And Approach Daesh Defenses In Residential Areas,” 8/21/17

Rudaw, “Iraqi forces control a Daesh tunnel network west Tal Afar,” 8/21/17

Shafaaq News, “Only a few hundred meters separates the Federal Police from the first neighborhoods of Tal Afar,” 8/21/17

Szlanko, Balint, “Iraqi forces close in on IS-held town west of Mosul,” Associated Press, 8/21/17

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