Iraqi prime minister Haider Al-Abadi announced earlier today that Tal Afar has been “liberated” from the Islamic State. “Our brave Armed Forces have liberated Tal Afar and the Iraqi flag is once again flying high in Nineveh province,” Al-Abadi tweeted. “I salute our martyrs, our injured and their families whose sacrifices have made this and other victories possible,” he added. “Nineveh is liberated.”
The US echoed Al-Abadi’s announcement, trumpeting the quick progress made by Iraqi forces.
“The global Coalition to defeat ISIS congratulates Prime Minister Al-Abadi and all Iraqi Security Forces on their stunning victory in Tal Afar and Northern [Nineveh] Province,” Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) said in a statement. But CJTF-OIR added a cautionary note: “While the city and critical infrastructure are under ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] control, dangerous work remains to completely remove explosive devices, identify ISIS fighters in hiding and eliminate any remaining ISIS holdouts so they do not threaten the security of Tal Afar in the future.”
The commander of the global coalition’s forces in Iraq and Syria expressed that Kurdish Peshmerga have done “incredible work” in the fight against ISIS so far, and he is expecting “more contributions” in the offensive to retake Hawija.
“So people probably don't have a good appreciation for this, but I certainly do,” US Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said during a Pentagon press conference on Thursday. “The Peshmerga were instrumental in stopping the onslaught of ISIS in 2014 and 2015. Across much of northern Iraq, it was the Kurdish Peshmerga who held the line.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi praised forces involved in the liberation of Tal Afar and all of Nineveh on Thursday, mentioning various Iraqi security units by name including the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries, but not the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The three-star US general who will pass his command on to Army Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II next week, noted the defensive lines which Peshmerga held. ...