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ICC Note:

Iraqi forces have breached ISIS defenses to reach the city center of Tel Afar, marking further gains to dislodge ISIS from their territorial strongholds. Tel Afar is significant because it sits on a major supply route between Mosul and Syria, and security forces report that a large number of men from the city filled the ranks of ISIS as commanders and members of their religious police. ISIS is notorious for targeting Christians based on their religious identity and for pursuing a campaign which seeks to eliminate all visible signs of Christianity. Hopefully, the dislodgement of ISIS from all of their current strongholds will occur soon so that displaced Christians may finally return to their homes.

08/26/2017 Iraq (BBC) – Iraqi forces say they have broken through the defences of so-called Islamic State (IS) and reached the centre of the city of Tal Afar.

A spokesman said troops had also reached the neighbourhood around the old citadel.

Tal Afar, near the Syrian border, is one of the jihadists’ last remaining strongholds in Iraq after they were driven out of the city of Mosul.

The Iraqi offensive on Tal Afar has been under way for six days.

It involves similar forces to those that finally recaptured Mosul, but also includes some units of a mainly Shia militia.

Elite units had seized the northern neighbourhoods of Nida, Taliaa, Uruba, Nasr and Saad, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said.

The militants remain in control of the north-eastern quarter of the city, the JOC said.

An estimated 2,000 militants are inside Tal Afar, along with between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians.

Tal Afar, which had a predominantly ethnic Turkmen population of 200,000 before it fell to IS in June 2014, sits on a major supply route between Mosul, about 55km (35 miles) to the east, and the Syrian border, 150km (90 miles) to the west.

Security sources say a disproportionate number of men from the city filled the ranks of IS as commanders, judges and members of their religious police.

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