Iraqi forces clear Tal Afar mountains of ISIS remnants
By Khalid al-Taie
Iraqi forces have cleared the mountainous areas around the district of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants, a local Iraqi official said Tuesday (September 25th).
Joint forces from the police and the army's 15th Infantry Division launched a security operation early this week to eliminate militants in the mountainous areas of southeast Tal Afar, Tal Afar district council deputy head Abbas Wahab Qabalan told Diyaruna.
Security forces "searched several areas, most notably Sheikh Ibrahim, the mountain of al-Khan village, and remote villages in the direction of al-Mahalibiya", he said, adding that these areas have been cleared of ISIS.
The operation led to the killing of three ISIS elements who were hiding in the mountains and the arrest of nine others, he said.
Iraqi forces also seized and detonated several explosive belts and silenced weapons, and uncovered several tunnels and trenches, said Qabalan.
"ISIS remnants were dealt a heavy blow as a result of this quality operation," he said, adding that it was conducted following intelligence reports and tip-offs from the local population.
"Citizens are quick to inform the security forces the moment they obtain any information on terrorists' whereabouts and movements," he said. "Many security gains could not have been achieved were it not for their co-operation."
Tal Afar "enjoys stability in its residential neighbourhoods and on its outskirts," Qabalan said, noting that security forces are "heavily deployed, fortifying the city from all sides".
"Security forces carry out occasional search, surveillance and pursuit operations against ISIS in the areas around Tal Afar, especially to its south and east," he added.
"Security efforts are often concentrated in these areas because the terrain there is vast and comprises mountains, valleys and caves," he said.
They also overlook vast desert areas, most importantly the al-Hadr desert, which stretches to the northern Anbar desert and the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Security units in Tal Afar "are carrying out great responsibilities in tracking and destroying terrorist cells and hotbeds", Qabalan said, calling for increasing their numbers "in view of the district's large area and the fact that it opens to many deserts and highlands".