Iraqi PM declares victory over Daesh in Tal Afar

Iraqi troops face resistance in last push to drive IS militants out of Tal Afar

Smoke billowing from parts of the town of al-'Ayadiya, north of Tal Afar, as Iraqi forces advance during the ongoing operation to retake the area from ISIS on Monday.

IS militants still control the northern town of Hawija in Kirkuk Province and areas in the western province of Anbar near Syria.

The group has suffered a string of territorial losses in recent months...

The fighting in al-Ayadiya has been described by some Iraqi troops as "multiple times worse" than the battle for Mosul, the former de facto IS capital in northern Iraq.

"Our happiness is complete, victory has arrived and the province of Nineveh is now entirely in the hands of our forces", a statement from the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said.

On Aug. 20, Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, declared the start of an operation to retake control of Tal Afar and the nearby areas from IS militants. ISIS is another acronym for the militant group.

In view of the quick victory in Tal Afar, there were rumors that a deal had been struck to allow Islamic State fighters to flee.

The Iraqi army fires mortar shells at Daesh positions in Al Ayadiya, northwest of Tal Afar, Iraq, August 28, 2017.

The US-led coalition now fighting the terrorist group has issued their congratulations to Iraqi forces.

"We haven't seen a single civilian, dead or alive", Aridhi said.

Iraqi warplanes, al-Jubouri said, "are now in the process of pursuing Daesh militants fleeing into the mountains or towards the Rabia and Sinjar districts".

US advisers have said that the Iraqis' performance has gotten much better in their three years of battling the militants, especially after the fall of Mosul and the rapid liberation of Tal Afar.

Iraqi state TV interrupted its regular programs and played national songs, showing a live feed from Tal Afar, where soldiers danced and celebrated the victory.

But the battle for Hawija is expected to be more complicated because of its location.

"This is Iraq liberating Iraqis", he told a Pentagon teleconference from Baghdad.

Colonel Kareem al-Lami said breaching the militants' first line of defence in al-Ayadiya was like opening "the gates of hell".

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