Iraq PM Announces Invasion of Tal Afar, Sparking New Refugee Exodus

The US-led coalition welcomed the start of the assault and pledged its continued support for Iraqi forces battling the jihadists.

The general said civilians had not been seen fleeing the area, but the United Nations has warned that it is preparing for thousands to attempt to escape in the coming days and weeks.

Dillon said most of the territory retaken in the operation has been in the Kisik junction area to the east of the town.

Army and counter-terrorism units broke into the city from the eastern and southern sides, according to statements from the Iraqi joint operations command.

Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi has announced the imminent invasion of the Turkmen city of Tal Afar, with an eye toward retaking the northwestern area from ISIS.

Around 3,200 individuals have fled in the past four days to two displacement camps south of Mosul, the International Organization for Migration said in a statement.

"He's going to be facing a determined ISIS fighter dug into Tal Afar, determined to fight to the death", he added.

Its humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, said on Sunday that conditions were "very tough" inside Tal Afar. "Many of the displaced people from Talafar arrive exhausted and in poor health, often with critical levels of malnutrition among children, some unable to move".

"We have won all our battles, and Daesh have always lost", he said, wearing black military fatigues and using an Arabic name for the group.

Tal Afar and the surrounding area is one of the last pockets of IS-held territory in Iraq after victory was declared in July in Mosul.

A long-time stronghold of hardline Sunni Muslim insurgents, Tal Afar, 80 km (50 miles) west of Mosul in Iraq's far north, has experienced cycles of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'ite Muslims. "People are free from ISIS. the economy is recovering". He also planned to hold talks in Irbil with Masud Barzani, leader of the autonomous Kurdish region that has helped fight IS militants.

The Iraqi constitution "gives us the right to self-determination".

Brett McGurk, the USA envoy to the coalition, said this is not the time to undertake the vote.

  • Rogelio Becker