The Global Coalition to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has announced the collapse of the terrorist group in Tal Afar, Iraq, the U.S. Department of Defence said on Thursday.
The coalition congratulated Prime Minister Al-Abadi and all Iraqi forces on their stunning victory on Thursday in Tal Afar and northern Ninewah province, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said.
The U.S. Department in a statement in New York said that under the command of the Iraqi prime minister, all branches of the Iraqi forces took part in the liberation of Tal Afar.
The forces are the 9th, 15th and 16th Iraqi Army Divisions, the Counter Terrorism Service, the Federal Police and Emergency Response Division, Iraqi local police, the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s peshmerga, officials said.
The coalition said while the city and critical infrastructure were under Iraqi control, dangerous work remained to completely remove explosive devices.
“The other dangerous work is to identify ISIS fighters in hiding and eliminate any remaining ISIS holdouts so they do not threaten the security of Tal Afar in the future
“Following their historic liberation of Mosul and now a swift and decisive victory in Tal Afar, the Iraqis have shown, once again, they are an increasingly capable force that can protect the Iraqi people, defeat ISIS within Iraq and secure the country’s borders.
“This is yet another significant achievement for Iraq’s forces and the government and people of Iraq,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the Commander of U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq and Syria, said.
He said that the coalition contributed to the defeat of ISIS by providing Iraqi forces with equipment, training, intelligence, precision fire support and military advice to leaders.
“By working by, with, and through the government of Iraq and the Iraqi forces, the coalition has enabled the Iraqis to reclaim 90 per cent of their land from ISIS,’’ he added.
He said that the coalition would continue to support the government of Iraq and Iraqi security forces as they were fighting on to defeat ISIS in western Anbar province and Huwayjah.
Tal Afar was the last major population centre in northern Iraq still under the control of the terror group and its loss deprives ISIS of what was once a key supply hub between its territory in Syria and Iraq.
“Our happiness is complete, victory has arrived and the province of Nineveh is now entirely in the hands of our forces,” a statement from the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said.
After 12 days of fighting, Abadi announced that Tal Afar had “regained its place in the national territory”.
The full recapture of Nineveh province comes weeks after Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition ousted ISIS from its capital Mosul, three years after the terror group declared a self-styled “caliphate” straddling Iraq and war-torn Syria.
ISIS has lost much of the territory it controlled in the two countries 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 and a few areas in the desert along the border with Syria.