The Iraqi Security Forces made blistering progress in the fight to liberate the town of Tal Afar from ISIS. The Iraqi troops blazed through the town from multiple axes and liberated the city within 8 days of fighting, as it is believed that many militants fled from Tal Afar to nearby towns and villages.
By the 6th day of operations, the Iraqi forces burst through the centre of town, capturing the iconic Tal Afar citadel, which was originally built by the Ottomans, with some remnants of the ancient Assyrian civilisation.
In June 2014, ISIS militants stormed and captured the town of Tal Afar and by December 2014, the militants blew up the citadel’s northern and western walls, causing extensive damage. The militants also excavated some of the ruins within the citadel, in order to loot the ancient site.
As the Iraqi forces advanced and took control of the central part of town, they discovered how the terrorists desecrated and used the citadel. The rest of the citadel that wasn’t destroyed, was converted into a prison for women and girls who were to be forcibly married to ISIS fighters, as well as a torture chamber for dissidents.
After taking control of Tal Afar, the Iraqi forces began to proceed towards the sub-district of Ayadiyah, to the north, where a number of ISIS fighters are thought to have fled to. The fighters chose to flee to Ayadiyah due to its relative proximity to Tal Afar as well as its geography. The area is less than 15 km from the city and lies between four hills which surround the four sides of the district.
Fierce fighting is reportedly taking place in Ayadiyah with some observers claiming that the fight to take this district could be more difficult than the battle to take Tal Afar. Iraqi forces have currently taken most of the area.