by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Aug 14, 2017
Iraqi officials said Monday that preparations have been made for the battle to retake Tal Afar, a town held by the Islamic State jihadist group between Mosul and the Syrian border.
Federal police chief Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat said in a statement that "armoured and elite units are headed for Tal Afar", the main remaining stronghold of IS in northern Iraq.
The town is located 70 kilometres (43.5 miles) west of Mosul, where the jihadist group declared its "caliphate" in 2014 before being ousted from the city in July.
The units, whose number has not been specified, were "regrouping in combat positions in preparation for the next battle, said the statement.
Joining them is the Hashed al-Shaabi, a Shiite-dominated coalition of paramilitary units deployed since 2014 to halt the jihadist advance.
"Hashed al-Shaabi commanders met Saturday with army and police commanders to decide on the plan to free Tal Afar," spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi told reporters.
The coalition, which includes Iran-backed militias, would take part "actively and on all fronts" in the battle for Tal Afar to be launched within days, he said.
Assadi did not give a date for the launch and said that only Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi could announce the beginning of military operations.
IS jihadists overran Tal Afar in June 2014, when it had a population of around 200,000.
Tal Afar is surrounded by Hashed al-Shaabi and cut off from Mosul in the east and the Syrian border to the north and west.
The town was a Shiite-majority enclave in the mostly Sunni Muslim area with an overwhelmingly Turkmen population before its capture by IS.
The jihadists still hold Hawija, in the province of Kirkuk, 300 kilometres north of Baghdad.
But any military offensive in Hawija is expected to be postponed due to an upcoming planned referendum on Kurdish independence.
IS is also still present in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, including the Al-Qaim area on the border with war-ravaged Syria.
Ottawa (AFP) Aug 9, 2017
Canada will send up to 20 police officers to Iraq to help local authorities establish a police presence in Mosul, which was recently liberated from the Islamic State group, the government announced Wednesday. The officers are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, joining three Canadian police officers already on the ground. They are expected to stay until March 2019. "Progress has ... read more
Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century
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