Iraqi warplanes killed more than 30 ISIL militants West of Mosul as military operations turn focus to the remaining pockets in Nineveh province.
A statement by the Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell said Iraqi fighter jets targeted ISIL gatherings in Mahalabiya Qadisiya and Qalaa regions in Tal Afar, a major ISIL stronghold held by the group since 2014.
The strikes destroyed communication facilities and IED workshops belonging to the group, according to the statement.
ISIL has announced Tal Afar town, West of Mosul, as an independent state from the group’s proclaimed caliphate, according to a local source from Nineveh province.
“ISIL leadership in Tal Afar declared in a brief statement that the town has become an independent state from the caliphate and threatened strict punishment against whoever violates order,” the source said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source added that “Tal Afar has been completely controlled by Arabs and foreigners with no local leaders in the wake of the mass executions that was carried out over the past few weeks.”
The group, according to the source, considered the town as independent with its leaders, which marks a sudden development that comes one day after the group announced the murder of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
On Saturday, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, head of the Nineveh Operations at the Joint Operations Command, said in a briefing that more than 25.000 militants were killed over the nine months of battles, including more than 450 suicide bombers.
Last week, the Iraqi Army announced that Baghdad forces has recaptured the key town of Mosul, ISIL’s de facto capital in the Arab country, after 9-month of bloody battle with the Takfiri terrorists in Nineveh province.
According to an Iraqi commander that led the war to retake Iraq’s second largest city, security operations against the ISIL militants in Mosul left 25,000 militants killed.
Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, head of the Nineveh Operations at the Joint Operations Command, said in a briefing that more than 25,000 militants were killed over the nine months of battles, including more than 450 suicide bombers.
He added that Iraqi forces destroyed 1247 booby-trapped cars and shot down 130 drones belonging to the group besides more than 1500 diverse vehicles.
The commander declared that the JOC fought the battle with more than 100,000 government and paramilitary troops.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in October 2016, the start of a military operation to recapture Mosul.
Baghdad declared earlier in January that the Iraqi troops managed to capture the Eastern part of the key ISIL stronghold in Nineveh province. The Iraqi Army started a new phase of its military operation late February to drive the ISIL terrorists out of their bastion in the Western part of the city of Mosul.
The second largest city in Iraq fell to the ISIL group in 2014, when the Takfiri terrorists began a campaign of death and destruction in the Arab country.
The United Nations predicted that it will cost more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul. In some of the worst affected areas, almost no buildings appear to have escaped damage.
An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle began nine months ago. A total of 195,000 civilians have also returned to the liberated areas of Eastern and Western Mosul.