Iraqi Forces Reach Center of Tal Afar; Syrian Democratic Forces Push on in Raqqa
Iraqi security forces reached the center of Tal Afar and liberated another 60 square kilometers in and around the former Islamic State of Iraq and Syria stronghold, a Defense Department official said here today.
The city is not completely liberated yet, Army Col. Robert Manning said during a press availability in the Pentagon.
Iraqi security forces have attacked the terror group in the city to the west of Mosul, with increasing confidence, DoD officials said. The strategy of training, advising and assisting Iraqi forces is paying off with increased combat capabilities.
Coalition forces have also contributed by providing intelligence information and precision air and ground fires, Manning said. “The Iraqi security forces have made remarkable progress in Tal Afar, but the fight against ISIS continues while the city center and key infrastructure come under ISF control,” he said.
Iraqi forces still face dangerous work, Manning said, as they conduct “back clearance” operations after their advance. ISF service members, he added, are conducting operations to identify ISIS fighters that remain in hiding and clearing the city of improvised explosive devices.
“Additionally, the ISF will conduct clearance operations throughout northern Nineveh province around Tal Afar to eliminate any remaining ISIS holdouts,” Manning said.
Manning added, “Coalition support to ISF remains as it has been throughout the campaign. We are working by, with and through our Iraqi partners to enable their defeat of ISIS.”
The defeat-ISIS actions are Iraqi led and the forces are being deliberate in clearing the region to lessen the chances of civilian casualties, he said.
Operations in Syria
In Raqqa -- the so-called capital of the ISIS caliphate -- Syrian Democratic Forces are making progress against tough opposition, Manning said. The SDF liberated approximately one kilometer in Raqqa bringing the total of the liberated area of the city to about 60 percent.
“On the western axis the SDF cleared more than two hundred meters of urban terrain along the main supply route [including] a portion of the Children’s Hospital and advanced to within three hundred meters of the National Hospital, where ISIS snipers are operating,” he said.
To the west, the SDF has met solid ISIS resistance, but forces continue back-clearing operations, he added.
This is Day 84 of operations in and around Raqqa, Manning said.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)