Tal Afar (IraqiNews.com) Twelve Islamic State militants died in airstrikes that targeted their convoy west of Mosul, according to local sources, while the group killed 10 others for trying to flee.
The sources told Alsumaria News on Saturday that three consecutive strikes targeted a convoy of Islamic State members in the town of Tal Afar, aq major IS stronghold west of Mosul, killing twelve members including the group’s top “judiciary” official.
Meanwhile, Ahmed al-Shamri, from Nineveh Operations command, told Jordan’s Petra news agency that 10 other IS members were shot dead by comrades for trying to flee the town.
Islamic State have been holding Tal Afar since 2014, with the area becoming one of its most significant bastions in Nineveh province.
So far, offensives by the pro-government Popular Mobilization have isolated the town from the Syrian borders and from Mosul, and recaptured a main military base there.
Earlier on Saturday, government troops reportedly drove out IS militants in central Mosul’s Old City, where they group declared its rule in Iraq in 2014.
The issue of Tal Afar’s invasion has been controversial since Iraqi government forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, launched an offensive in October to retake areas occupied by the Islamic State in Nineveh, most notably the city of Mosul.
The Shia-led Popular Mobilization has occasionally said its fighters were awaiting orders from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to invade the mostly-Sunni Turkmen town. But regional Sunni powers, especially Turkey, had opposed the notion fearing sectarian consequences, obliging Abadi’s government to reassure that only the official forces would take up the mission.