Baghdad, Sep 3 (IANS) The Iraqi forces killed over 2,000 Islamic State (IS) militants and more than 50 suicide bombers during a major offensive to free Tal Afar area in west of Mosul, officials said.
“The IS total casualties in the blitzkrieg during the period from August 20 to 31 were more than 2,000 terrorists and over 50 suicide bombers, along with destroying and detonating of 77 car bombs, 71 booby-trapped buildings and 990 roadside bombs,” Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said at a televised press conference on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.
More than 40,000 Iraqi fighters from the Iraqi army, federal police and its commandos known as Rapid Response forces and Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces, in addition to ten brigades of the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi fighters, participated in the offensive, which was supported by Iraqi and international coalition aircraft, Yarallah said.
Yarallah also said that the Iraqi forces sustained 115 martyrs and 679 wounded during the 12-day battles to liberate Tal Afar and its surrounding areas, including the towns of Mahalabiyah and Ayadhiyah.
“Those who take a look at this figure (Iraqi forces casualties) will realize that fierce battles took place in Tal Afar area,” Yarallah said.
The troops evacuated a total of 40,758 people from the city of Tal Afar and surrounding areas before and during the offensive, 18,822 before August 20 and 21,936 others during the 12-day offensive, Yarallah said.
The Tal Afar area is about 3,206 sq. km, which consists of the city of Tal Afar and three towns: Zummar, which is under control of the Kurdish security forces, Mahalabiyah and Ayadhiyah, which were freed from IS militants during the offensive.
The whole Tal Afar area consists of 47 villages scattered around the city and its three towns.
The majority of the population in the Tal Afar area are Sunni and Shiite Turkomans, in addition to the Kurds and other minorities.
On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared full liberation of the city of Tal Afar and surrounding areas from the extremist IS militants.
“I declare to you that Tal Afar has joined the liberated Mosul and returned to the homeland,” Abadi said in a statement issued by his office.
“The joy of victory has been completed and the entire province of Nineveh has become in the hands of our heroic forces,” Abadi said.
The Prime Minister also vowed to defeat IS group all over Iraq, saying “wherever you (IS militants) are, we are coming for liberation, and you have no choice but to die or surrender”.