Iraq launches ground offensive against ISIS

Iraqi forces launch offensive to retake city of Tal Afar from ISIS terrorists.

Ben Ariel,

Tal Afar
Tal Afar

Iraqi forces on Saturday night launched a ground offensive to retake the city of Tal Afar from Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said, according to Al-Jazeera.

"You either surrender, or die", Abadi said in a televised speech announcing the operation, in a direct message to ISIS jihadists.

Tal Afar and the surrounding area are among the last pockets of ISIS-held territory in Iraq, after victory was declared in Mosul, the country's second-largest city.

Tal Afar is located west of Mosul and about 150 kilometers east of the Syrian border, sitting along a major road that was a key ISIS supply route.

Iraqi officials believe there are between 1,400 and 1,600 ISIS fighters in the Tal Afar area, including many foreign fighters, according to Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasool who spoke through an interpreter on Saturday.

"I don't think it will be tougher than the battle of Mosul, taking into consideration the experience we got in Mosul," he told reporters, according to Al-Jazeera.

Thousands of Iraqis have fled to Iraq's Kurdish region this week as preparations of the offensive continued, the report said.

The Iraqi military’s retaking of Mosul in July was the most severe blow ISIS had suffered to that point, though the struggle against the Sunni Muslim terror organization continues in Syria and large portions of northern and western Iraq.