Iraqi forces poised to take full control of ISIS stronghold

Fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi a Shiite-dominated paramilitary coalition fighting IS jihadists in Iraq advance towards the town of Tal Afar

Rather, most of the Iraqi forces still seem to be ringing the city's outskirts, and it took very few to capture mostly uncontested districts.

Iraqi troops have made significantly rapid territorial gains, facing far less resistance in Tal Afar than in Mosul where the battle lasted over nine months.

Troops also said they discovered a network of underground tunnels used by the Daish to launch attacks behind lines of already conquered territory, or to escape.

Intelligence sources estimate up to 20,000 civilians also remained.

Obaidi added that most of Tal Afar residents had fled towards Turkey, noting that many districts in the city had been deserted.

Iraqi Police and Popular Mobilization Forces have accomplished their mission completely, the report said referring to the liberation of the historic citadel in the center of that Iraqi city.

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Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a military spokesman, spoke hours after Iraq's foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said that 70 percent of the town west of Mosul had been retaken. Tal Afar is the last major stronghold of the Daesh militants on the border of Iraq with Syria.

French forces have carried out air and artillery strikes in support of Iraqi operations. Several divisions of Iraqi security, including the American-trained counterterrorism forces, advanced on the city from different sides.

France is a main partner in the USA -led coalition helping Baghdad fight the militants who seized parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Meanwhile, Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, has raised concerns for the people trapped inside the city amid the intense fighting.

Until its takeover by IS, Tal Afar was largely populated by Shia Turkmen, whose beliefs are anathema to the Sunni hardliners of IS.

The whole Tal Afar area consists of 47 villages scattered around the city and its three towns. Before the operation was launched, Iraq's intelligence services estimated that between 1,400 and 2,000 militants occupied the city.

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