Tal Afar (IraqiNews.com) A senior recruitment officer with the Islamic State was killed Tuesday as Iraqi forces, backed by paramilitary troops, entered a third day of operations to retake the town of Tal Afar, the group’s last stronghold in Nineveh province.
Intelligence sources told Shafaq News website that Abu Qatada al-Afri was killed in an airstrike while being in a group headquarter in central Tal Afar. Four other companions were also killed in the raid, said the sources.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared early Sunday the launch of operations to recapture the enclave where military commanders believe up to 2000 fighters are bunkered.
Over the past two days, Iraqi field commanders reported remarkable victories, saying government and paramilitary troops continue to advance towards the center of the town.
On Tuesday, the pro-government Popular Mobilization Forces said through their media that troops advanced towards the center of the town from the southeast. They also reported encounters in the south at al-Jazirah and “silo” regions.
Federal Police chief Shaker Jawdat said also that his forces took over 20 kilometers of Tal Afar, and began bombarding Kefah, Wahda and al-Saad regions on the western side of the town preparing to invade them.
The United Nations said at least 40.000 civilians fled the town since the start of operations.
Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, Islamic State’s former capital, early July, marking an effective collapse of the group’s self-proclaimed “caliphate”.
Following Tal Afar, the Iraqi government eyes the few remaining IS havens in Anbar, Kirkuk and Salahuddin.