Iraqi forces have liberated the town of Tal Afar at a speed that has exposed the falsity of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) group's alleged strength, an Iraqi military commander said Tuesday (August 29th).
Iraqi forces recaptured all neighbourhoods of Tal Afar, in western Ninawa province, after nine days of fighting.
Signs of collapse appeared in the militants’ ranks during the first hours of the liberation battle.
"As we had predicted in advance, the battle did not last more than 10 days," said Ninawa Operations Commander Maj. Gen. Najm Eddin al-Jubury.
Now the battle is raging in the town of al-Ayadieh, 15 kilometres north of Tal Afar, where Iraqi forces engaged in heavy fighting Monday with the last pocket of ISIS fighters that remain in Ninawa.
"ISIS terrorists will not last long, maybe a few days if not less, before we liberate al-Ayadieh," al-Jubury told Diyaruna.
"Iraqi forces have attacked al-Ayadieh from three fronts amid a collapse in the ranks of ISIS fighters," Joint Operations Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasul told Diyaruna.
Iraqi troops have so far taken control of two villages and keep advancing with support from the Iraqi air force and coalition warplanes and the Iraqi army Abrams tanks battalion, he said.
The intensive airstrikes that preceded the Tal Afar battle depleted ISIS's human and material capabilities, al-Jubury said, adding that the siege of Tal Afar over the past nine months also helped expedite the victory.
"The speed at which victory has been achieved exposed the falsity of ISIS's strength," he said. "The group is nothing but a paper tiger."
ISIS roiled by internal divisions
"The militants' morale has been greatly affected by the deep divisions between local and foreign fighters, which increased before the battle began," according to al-Jubury.
Many local ISIS fighters preferred to flee ahead of the battle, leaving the foreign fighters to engage in the fighting alone, he said.
"The victory in Tal Afar will expedite the end of ISIS in Iraq," he said.
"This achievement holds a moral gain for our forces, motivating them to continue fighting to free the last inch of our occupied territories," he added.