Iraq fighting for IS-held city of Tal Afar

Iraq fighting for IS-held city of Tal Afar

The fight will involve a broad spectrum of forces, including the Iraqi army, counterterrorism troops, police and a group of mainly Shia, Iranian-backed militias.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on Friday, Ahmed al-Asadi said 20,000 volunteer forces, commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha'abi, will take part in the forthcoming battle for Tal Afar, located 63 kilometers west of Mosul.

The PM met with a high-level delegation this week including generals and Ambassador Douglas Silliman from the United States, which leads the global coalition to defeat ISIS and trains, advises, assists and provides intelligence to ISF. But, he said: "They'll be ready enough".

In the weeks since, much of the Iraqis' equipment has been repaired or replaced, said Gen. Joseph Votel, America's top Middle East commander who spent the last few days in Iraq.

He sees Tal Afar "unfolding relatively soon".

An estimated 1,400 troops Iraqi were killed and 7,000 wounded in the battle to liberate Mosul, which had been under IS control since the militants captured wide swathes of territory from government forces in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

He further said that smaller number of militias such as Hasd Al-Shaabi and a larger number of members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party are set to participate in the liberation of Tal Afar together with the USA forces.

Thousands of Iraqis continued to stream into the country's Kurdish region, as government forces prepare for a ground offensive in a northern area controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In June, at least 500 families fled Tal Afar to Kurdish-controlled areas before being transferred to Hamam Alil camp.

"We have information about the presence of foreigners within Daesh ranks in Tal Afar, but we do not know their identity", Asadi pointed out.

ISIS has stepped up its activity south of Kirkuk where the Hamrin mountain range runs along Kurdistan's southern border. He's going to be facing a determined ISIS fighter dug into Tal Afar, determined to fight to the death.