Iraqi forces battle through last IS hold outs

Iraqi forces battle through the last IS hold outs around Tal Afar
2 min read
31 August, 2017
Iraqi forces are continuing their push in the north of the country, following recent successes in Tal Afar and Mosul.
Iraqi forces are taking the last areas under IS control [AFP]
Iraqi forces engaged in fierce fighting with Islamic State group militants in the town of al-Ayadiya on Wednesday, as pro-government forces attempt to clear the last remnants of  militants from the Tal Afar area.

Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces) fighters are engaged in house-to-house fighting with the militants as the pro-government militia handles the bulk of the battle.

The Iraqi military has described the resistance from the couple of hundred IS militants holed up in al-Ayadiya as "multiple times worse" than the nine-month Battle of Mosul, which cost thousands of lives.

Colonel Kareem al-Lami described the attack on the first lines of IS defences as "opening the gates of hell", according to Reuters.

Despite the surprising resistance in al-Ayadiya, Iraqi forces have managed to capture half the town and are looking to finish the battle by the start of Eid, which falls on Friday.

"We have to finish the battle before Eid, whatever it takes... We are coming under tremendous pressure from top commanders," Army Lieutenant Colonel Adnan al-Saidi told Reuters.

"We will take back al-Ayadiya even if we have to level all houses and buildings used by [IS]."

Al-Ayadiya is one of IS' last strongholds in northern Iraq, after the fall of Tal Afar and Mosul.

IS stormed through north and west Iraqi in 2014, taking swathes of the country from Iraqi forces who fled south.

An Iraqi government counter-offensive - backed by heavy US bombing - has seen IS territories reduced to small pockets of land.