Since the full liberation of Mosul in early July, ISIS has moved the majority of its forces and its military focus to its other strongholds across Iraq. The most prominent of these strongholds has been considered to be in Tal Afar, just 63 kilometres west of Mosul within the Governorate of Nineveh in Iraq.
On declaring the beginning of operations to liberate the city of Tal Afar from ISIS hands, residents of ISIS’ former self-proclaimed capital, Mosul, have reacted with joy as they are aware of the importance of eliminating ISIS from Tal Afar in terms of diminishing the general influence of the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
The residents of Mosul are also able to empathise with the inhabitants of Tal Afar as both cities have been victims of a full occupation by ISIS for around 3 years. Residents of both cities have expressed the suffering that they have experienced while living under the oppressive rule of ISIS.
The majority of the city of Tal Afar comprises a Turkmen and Shia population, which has made it a target for discrimination by ISIS, which has demonstrated extreme intolerance to any groups that possess identities outside of the terrorist group’s totalitarian vision.
The Iraqi Army has thus far made gains in Tal Afar, having secured control over parts of a number of neighbourhoods, including al-Nour, Northern Kefah and Southern Kefah. Operations are still in their initial stages, so most of the city is still under ISIS control.
It took approximately 8 months for the Iraqi forces to liberate the whole of Mosul from ISIS. That victory may be regarded as the most hard-earned and most significant in the overall battle to eliminate ISIS. The battle for Tal Afar is not likely to take as long as the Iraqi Army has gained experiences neutralising ISIS military tactics from previous battles and the city is not as large as Mosul.