Iraq says victory over IS in Tal Afar is near

Heartbreaking An Iraqi woman named Alia holds the body of her child Ula who died on a truck on the way to a Trauma Stabilisation Point in Mosul where it is estimated around 40,000 civilians have been killed since October last year when an offensive

The commander of the Tal Afar operation, Abdulamir Yarallah, said Saturday that units of the 9th Armored Division and the Popular Mobilization Units, also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, had captured al-Muthanna 2 district and the Tal Afar Hospital.

"On the [Tal Afar] city plan, nothing is left [seized by terrorists], the cleanup is underway", Jubouri said.

Tal Afar is one of the last bastions of IS control in Iraq.

Prior to the meeting in Erbil, a diplomat familiar with French policy said Le Drian and Parly would convey to KRG President Massoud Barzani the French position in favour of an autonomous Kurdistan that remains part of the Iraqi state.

Iraqi forces had been making gains in their battle to retake the key area from IS since announcing the start of the ground offensive on Sunday.

They retook three first districts of the city on Tuesday, but as with the gruelling nine-month campaign to recapture Mosul, their convoys face an onslaught of suicide and auto bomb attacks.

Ministry of Displacement and Migration official Zuhair Talal al-Salem told Anadolu Agency 1,500 people fled the district's surrounding villages and areas. The word "liberated" in Arabic was stamped on a map of Tal Afar. The U.S. -led coalition is providing air strikes and other support to Iraqi forces.

But there are concerns that ISIS fighters and violence could return to the city - more than a month after Mosul was declared liberated, violence and sleeper cells still exist in the city's west.

Tal Afar sits on a strategic route between IS-controlled territories in Syria and Mosul, 70 kilometers (40 miles) further east.

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

Up to 2,000 militants were believed to be defending Tal Afar when the campaign to take back the city started on August 20.

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

The extremist group has lost much of the territory it controlled and thousands of its fighters have been killed since late 2014, when the US-led global coalition was set up to defeat the group.

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