Report: French-backed Iraqi troops retake most of central Tel Afar



MOSUL, Ziad Haris and Lobna Monieb (dpa) - Iraqi troops on Saturday recaptured 90 per cent of the centre of Tel Afar city from Islamic State militants, Iraqi Joint Operations command said, as reported by Iraqi broadcaster Sumaria TV.
A map released by the Iraqi army's media office shows fewer than ten neighbourhoods still under the jihadists' control, one week after an operation began to drive the Islamic State extremist group out of the city.



Tel Afar, located some 70 kilometres west of the recently liberated city of Mosul, is the extremist militia's last foothold in northern Iraq.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Saturday that 70 per cent of Tel Afar had been recaptured from Islamic State militants.
"[The] liberation of the remaining parts of Tel Afar will be announced soon," al-Jaafari said in a press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian and French Defence Minister Florence Parly.
A security source told dpa that the complete recapture of the northern city "might be announced in the coming hours."
French artillery is participating in the fight as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State, according to Parly.
"Now all efforts are focused on Tel Afar. I have no doubt that Iraqi forces, backed by the coalition, will achieve victory," she said.
Iraqi sources had previously told dpa that US artillery is taking part in Tel Afar operation from its newly established base in northern Iraq.
The two French ministers have also met with Iraqi President Fouad Massoum and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.
The ministers will now head to Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, where they will meet the region's President Massoud Barzani.
Asked about the future of Syria, Le Drian said that there are no preconditions regarding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that "there is a necessary transitional process that includes a new constitution and UN-supervised elections."
Last week, al-Abadi announced the launch of a ground offensive against the Islamic State militia in Tel Afar, following the militia's defeat in its key stronghold of Mosul in July.
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Sunday, August 27th 2017
Ziad Haris and Lobna Monieb
           


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